Saturday, November 5, 2011
The Burglar in the Library, by Lawrence Block
The Burglar in the Library
By Lawrence Block
This could turn out to be a cross between The Mousetrap and Ten Little Indians. All that's missing is a body in the library.
If you wondered if the resemblance between Block's The Burglar in the Library and Agatha Christie's The Body in the Library is more than coincidental Block clears that up at various points throughout his book, including the quotation referenced above. While his book could be viewed almost as a parody of this type of work, he actually manages to turn out a pretty decent old school whodunit by the time it's all said and done. "Think Agatha Christie at Fawlty Towers" is the comparison Block makes at his web site, though it's perhaps not quite so madcap as that suggests.
This is number eight of ten in the Bernie Rhodenbarr series and this time the bookstore owner/burglar is stranded at an English country house - in upstate New York. He's gone there to spirit away a very valuable book (one that would be quite appealing to hardboiled fans, if it actually existed) but of course there's no way it can possibly be that simple.
As the guests are cut off from the outside world by a blizzard and the bodies start to pile up Bernie finds himself in the unlikely position - given that he is a burglar - of heading the effort to solve the murders. Which he does, for the most part, with everything being wrapped up pretty much in a satisfying manner.
I liked this book quite a bit but I have to admit that I picked it up primarily because of the country house/traditional mystery angle. I'm not sure if I'll be revisiting the Rhodenbarr series at any time soon, but that's mainly because there are so many other books of a traditional bent that I'm more keen to read.