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Bernie Rhodenbarr Books In Order

Publication Order of Bernie Rhodenbarr Books

Burglars Can't Be Choosers (1977) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar in the Closet (1978) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Liked to Quote Kipling (1979) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Studied Spinoza (1980) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
Like a Thief in the Night (1983) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Dropped in on Elvis (1990) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Traded Ted Williams (1994) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Thought He Was Bogart (1995) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar in the Library (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke (1997) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar in the Rye (1999) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar on the Prowl (2004) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Takes a Cat (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Burglar Who Counted the Spoons (2013) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle


Bernie Rhodenbarr is a burglar with a good side. Sure, he may enjoy the feeling and thrill of committing a good burglar, but that isn’t all that defines this character. Specializing in lock picking and the other half of that tandem, breaking and entering, Rhodenbarr can gain access to just about anywhere. With this skill set, Rhodenbarr sets out to build up the nice monetary safety net that everyone can only dream of. In a weird sense, Bernie is a modern day Robin Hood, though the poor he is giving to could rarely constitute their own work group and call upon smoke and mirror tactics to get lost among a crowd. Rhodenbarr’s unique ability to adapt to any situation may just prove why he is the man he was then too.

Rhodenbarr made his debut in Burglars Can’t Be Choosers in 1977. In what set the benchmark for a fairly repetitive plot sequence, the reader is exposed to a story of a man who spends days and weeks planning out every little detail of the heist and escape. Then, during some part of the heist, our burglar will come across a dead body somewhere in the building. Thus, our hero is launched into an investigation to attempt to clear his name and aid the police force in general. Our burglar uses his strategy as a thief to attempt to clear his name by any means necessary.

In total, Rhodenbarr has been a character in eleven novels and four short stories. All that means for the reader is that the reader is greeted with more hijinks and more cleverness from author Lawrence Block. Along with just our main character, there are a few other main characters that help Bernie in his missions and quest to save his name. One of his cohorts, Ray Kirschmann, is a detective for the NY police force. Due to his connections in the legal realm, Ray cannot actually help his friend conduct big heists. Just small ones. But, he is generally good enough to Bernie that he will stay in the dark until the climax of the novels.

Over the course of the series, the setting of the introduction and ancillary events changes and adapts to the burglar the audience is following. At one point, he buys a bookstore to operate, and, according to the author, he is using that store as a means to satisfy his lust for women. He uses the store as a means to meet women and enjoy his active sex life. His sex life is implied or touched upon at least once every novel. Along with his tendency to enjoy a vibrant sex life, Rhodenbarr also enjoys a nice Scotch to sooth his ever racing mind. The only time his mind is free of alcoholic influence, however, is when he is in the hours that lead up to any of his master plans.

In the first novel of the series, Burglars Can’t Be Choosers, the reader is introduced to the main character, Bernie Rhodenbarr. According to the man himself, the poor have nothing that is targeted for high level stealing. Instead, he targets the high profile people of New York, the people who collect fancy artwork and jewelry. Rhodenbarr has done well for himself, but he selects a job to agree to without knowing who he is selecting the job from. What ensues next is what can only be described as being in the worst place possible at the worst possible time. Avoiding the police and dodging bullets left and right, Bernie must fight to prove his innocence and avoid any long term stints in jail.

In the second novel of the series, The Burglar in the Closet, Bernie hears about some diamonds he would love to have in his possession. His dentist, a rather open talker, let’s this detail slip while performing some work on his patient. Later that night, Bernie goes for broke trying to obtain the diamonds, but another has beaten him to it. Now, stuck in a closet in full view of a dead body, Rhodenbarr must once again fight to prove that he was not the assailant, but merely a bystander. This novel was adapted into a film and titled Burglar.

Readers enjoy these novels because they open up a world where not everything goes as planned and not everyone is who they seem. Our “hero” is a bookstore owner who moonlights as a professional burglar. His burglary skills are magical when unimpeded, an event that has yet to happen in the series. The readers get to twist and turn with the characters as they laugh their way through the pages. If you are looking for a nice, quick read, these stories may be just the ticket for you. The only character with any real development is Bernie. The rest of the characters included in the stories lack depth and personality. All of this gives room for Bernie to outthink and out sleuth any of the other characters.

Currently, the final book of the series is titled The Burglar Who Counted Spoons and is interesting to its public domain. In this crazy adventure, Bernie and his sidekick, Carolynn, must figure out a way to keep drugs and alcohol out of our systems up in North Knoxville. The twists and turns and jokes will keep the reader on their toes at all time. The jokes run high and the tension cuts deep like a knife.

Overall, these books should be off the shelf and on your desk or library collection. They are engaging, the characters will feel real. The man behind the books has since tried to walk away, wanting to peacefully retire and sail off into the sunset. His retirement is not met with peace from fandom of course. Their love of his work is aimed at the lovability of the main character, the bumbling professional spy, Bernie Rhodenbarr.

Book Series In Order » Characters » Bernie Rhodenbarr
  • abdiesus

    “What are the dragons doing during this time? Most had thought them dead, due mainly in regards to no one having seen them. Pool maintenance is all you. ” uh….wtf?