Bernie Rhodenbarr is approached by a customer with a proposition: steal a coveted first printing of The Curious Case of Benjamin Button. When Bernie hands over the desired document, he’s then asked to steal a silver spoon adorned with the likeness of Benjamin Gwinnett, a background player in the signing of the Declaration of Independence.
As if this isn't enough to keep Bernie busy, he’s approached by an old friend on the other side of the law for a consultation regarding a recent break and enter that left an elderly woman dead. Can Bernie steal the silver spoon and crack the case at the same time?
I had been reading a few of Block's earlier novels published through Hard Case Crime when I received an offer from his publicist to take a look at The Burglar Who Counted The Spoons. I was a little apprehensive at first because as a reader, I never read out of sequence. This isn’t as strict as Batman's "one rule" but it’s something I prefer to abide by. However, it's Lawrence Block and it’s an advanced copy of his new book – how could I possibly say no? Truth is, I’m glad I didn't.
Not having read the previous ten installments of the Burglar series, it’s impossible for me to judge whether or not I would have had a richer reading experience had I read them first but that being said, it’s hard to imagine needing a lot of back story going in. Block does a great job bringing the reader up to speed on Rhodenbarr’s world as a semi-retired burglar who happens to own and operate a bookstore.
It’s worth mentioning that Block is a damn funny guy. There were a few laugh out loud moments in the novel that I had to highlight and save for later, my favorite being:"..'It was a real Playboy fantasy, wasn't it? She’s hot and gorgeous, she does everything you can think of and a couple of things you can’t, and then she’s gone. It doesn't get any better than that.’
'It could have been better. Around four in the morning she could have turned into a pizza.'"
When it comes down to it, this is light storytelling at its finest. While the history of the silver spoon was tightly researched and the reasoning behind its procurement had been interesting, the free-flowing conversations between Bernie, Carolyn and Ray were the highlight, leading to the pages breezing by. I will be seeking out the earlier Bernie novels for sure – I suggest you do the same.