Bernie Rhodenbarr

Created by Lawrence Block

Okay, so he’s not a P.I.!

Slight, mild-mannered New Yorker BERNIE RHODENBARR and his cat run Barnegat Books on East Eleventh Street, between Broadway and University Place and lives in an apartment at Seventy-First and West End Avenue, in this sly, literate and slightly goofy series by Lawrence Block, creator of the Matt Scudder series. Block is also responsible for the Chip Harrison, Evan Tanner, Keller and about a million crime and mystery novels.

Bernie’s best friend is lesbian dog groomer Carolyn Kaiser (uh, she’s a lesbian, the dogs are whatever the dogs are). He enjoys an occasional good meal, a nice bottle of wine, and some good conversation with friends. He’s everything the genial, charming middle-aged New York gentleman should be.

Oh, and he likes to steal.

And he’s really good at it.

Really, really good.

Only problem is that, whenever he gives in to the temptation to do a little B&E, he tends to discover a body or otherwise somehow land in trouble. And then he has to make like a great detective himself, to get himself out of the soup, invariably by gathering all the suspects together, à la Agatha Christie.

There’s something so good-natured about Bernie and his felonious pursuits that while Scudder may get all the attention and acclaim,  I offer–for your consideration–that it’s Bernie who is Block’s most beloved creation. Oh, sure, somebody gets murdered, but the books are all in fun, and the irrepressible Bernie displays a puckish sense of humour, as he liberates everything from antiques and stamp collections to priceless works of art and Elvis memorabilia. And the mysteries may swoop and dive, but they’re always fair play.

Well, until 2022’s The Burglar Who Met Fredric Brown, that is, Block’s through-the-looking-glass post-retirement-from-writing surprise, where he conjures up (and pays homage to) the sort of surreal wackiness that the legendary sci-fi/fantasy/crime writer Brown excelled at. But rest assured, Bernie manages to wrap things up. Sort of.

About the only mystery Bernie’s never been able to crack is why anybody ever thought Whoopi Goldberg would make a good Bernie in the 1987 feature film, The Burglar.


  • “…the Heifetz of the picklock”
    — The New York Times on Bernie



  • “A Bad Night for Burglars”
  • “Like a Thief in the Night” (May 1983, Cosmopolitan)
  • “The Burglar Who Dropped in on Elvis” (April 1990, Playboy)
  • “The Burglar Who Smelled Smoke” (Summer/Fall 1997, MHCMM; with Lynne Wood Block)
  • “The Burglar Takes a Cat” (August 2013, digital) Kindle it!
  • “A Burglar’s Complaint” (June 2015, | Read it now!


  • The Burglar in Short Order (2020) Buy this book  Buy the audio Kindle it!
    Collects all the short stories, plus several essays, including one describing Bernie’s origins.


    102 minutes
    Based (very loosely) on The Burglar in the Closet by Lawrence Block
    Directed by Hugh Wilson
    Starring Whoopie Goldberg as BERNICE RHODENBARR
    Also starring “Bobcat” Goldthwait, G.W. Bailey, Lesley Ann Warren, James Handy, Anne DeSalvo, John Goodman


  • Lawrence
    The official site, irreverent as all hell, and fun as all git out, full of vital info about the author, his books, his short stories, his newsletter, his upcoming projects, his seemingly endless book tour and everything else. And you can also buy autographed copies here (credit cards gleefully accepted). Although, you know what they say — the rare Block is the unsigned copy.
Report respectfully submitted by Kevin Burton Smith.

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