The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian by Lawrence Block


Cozy Mystery

The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian (Bernie Rhodenbarr Mysteries) The Burglar Who Painted Like MondrianLawrence Block; HarperTorch 2005WorldCat

 One day a man came to Bernie Rhodenbarr in his book shop and asked Bernie to appraise his book collection. Bernie agreed, especially because of where the man lived. The Charlemagne is one of the most security conscience residence buildings in the city. A burglar would have a lot of trouble breaking in – unless invited like Bernie now was.

Bernie takes his opportunity. He visits the man, appraises the books, accepts a cash payment for the work and admires the Mondrian painting over the fireplace. When he leaves he then sneaks up to a different floor rather than catching the elevator to the ground. He burgles another residence in the building, sneaks back down to his original floor, then takes the elevator back to the ground and walks out of the building under security’s noses with a nice haul.

When his “favorite” cop shows up at his bookstore to arrest him, Bernie knows he has a problem. It seems that the book owner he had just visited was murdered while Bernie was in the building. Bernie had been in the man’s home, leaving his fingerprints everywhere. So naturally, Bernie is arrested for murder.

Then his close friend’s cat is “catnapped”. The ransom asked is extremely high. Only after talking with the kidnapper does Bernie realize how high. It seems to be his week for Mondrians. The kidnapper will be satisfied with the Mondrian at a local museum rather than the cash. When another body shows up in Bernie’s bookstore his problems increase. How will he find the murderer, the catnapper, and get the Mondrians where they belong without ending up in jail himself for burglary at the very least? It’s going to take some very fancy footwork to get out of this mess.

This novel was published over 25 years ago, yet the story hasn’t aged. Some of the technology has, but not enough to affect the story. Lawrence Block wrote a tale that catches the reader and gives him or her a good time. Bernie is the antihero that is easy to identify with. He is self deprecating (i.e. he knows he shouldn’t steal, but he just can’t help himself…). He also won’t purposely hurt anything or anyone.

The Burglar Who Painted Like Mondrian is also educational. I enjoy Mondrian’s paintings, but didn’t know some of the details that Block told me, like the painting around the edge of the stretcher frame. I also could have told you the artist’s name if Bernie hadn’t described the paintings – I just know I like them. Now I will remember the artist. In the meantime I’ll keep on enjoying the Bernie Rhodenbarr books.

Notice: Suggestive dialogue or situations

More books by Lawrence Block
Bernie Rhodenbarr series at Stop! You’re Killing Me!

Link to Books

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *