book cover of A Bad Night for Burglars

A Bad Night for Burglars

A Novella by

"A Bad Night for Burglars" was written sometime in the fall of 1975, probably not much more than six months before I began work on Bernie Rhodenbarr's debut in Burglars Can't Be Choosers. I didn't have the short story consciously in mind when I wrote the book, which seemed to grow directly out of a fantasy of mine in which I took up burglary as as alternative to writing only to break into an apartment where amurder had recently taken place.

It wasn't until years later that I saw "A Bad Night for Burglars" as a precursor to the book and thus to the whole Bernie Rhodenbarr series. It seems obvious now, but I never really looked at the story once I'd finished it and sent it off to my agent. (He sent it to Fred Dannay, who took it as my first sale to Ellery Queen's Mystery Magazine. Fred specialized in changing titles, rarely for the better; he changed this one to "Gentlemen's Agreement," which wouldn't have been an improvement under any circumstances, but which was especially unfortunate given that Laura Z. Hobson's bestselling novel, about genteel covert antisemitism, bore that title and was still very much alive in national memory. Ah well. I was able to restore the original title when I included the story in Enough Rope.

The titular burglar who's having a distinctly bad night doesn't have a name, nor does he own a secondhand bookstore and hang out with a poodle-grooming lesbian. But it's not hard to see the shadow of Bernie here. On the other hand, were Mrs. Rhodenbarr's son Bernard to find himself in this particular mess, I'm sure he'd find a better way to Work Things Out...

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August 2011 : USA, Australia, Canada, UK Kindle edition

Title: A Bad Night for Burglars
Author(s): Lawrence Block
Publisher: Lawrence Block
Availability: Amazon   Amazon UK   Amazon CA   Amazon AU