Between 1977 and 1983, I wrote and published five books about the lighthearted and lightfingered Bernard Grimes Rhodenbarr, with his secondhand bookstore and his dogwashing buddy, Carolyn. It was 1994 before a sixth Burglar book came along, but by then I’d written a pair of short stories about our lad.
The first, “Like a Thief in the Night,” was exceptional in that it’s told from the point of view of the young woman who walks in on Bernie while he’s burgling a suite of midtown offices. (She’s pretty and personable, and he’s Bernie, so everything works out just fine.) A few years later I was holed up at a writers colony in Virginia with time on my hands, and a whole batch of short stories was the happy result. One was this one, in which Bernie’s enlisted by a supermarket tabloid to take forbidden photos at Graceland.
That same stint in Virginia also yielded “Answers to Soldier,” about a hit man on a job in a small city in Oregon. Each story went straight to Alice Turner at Playboy, who bought them both. A couple of years later I found I had more to say about that hit man, whose name was Keller; there have now been four books about him, and I suspect there’ll be at least one more to come. And as for Bernie, there have been five more books, making a total of ten. And there’s been one more short story, “The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke.” And every once in a while an entire day goes by without someone asking me when I’m going to write another book about the fellow…
- Lawrence Block, September 2011
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