Bernie’s fans will not be disappointed. The book is full of the characteristic wit, lust, arcane history, rare book trivia, and clever dialogue with his lesbian best friend Carolyn of the series. The mystery itself is secondary and suffers from the also-characteristic feature of not being solvable by the reader since the critical evidence is all obtained by Bernie through his signature burglar skills, and not shared with the reader until the big reveal at the end.
Mystery fans who are newcomers to this series should be prepared to accept that the crook, Bernie, is the protagonist and is never “brought to justice” in the typical crime novel way. Yes, he steals for a living and gets away with it, so if that bothers you, get over it or read something else. Of course, the author tries to make him out to be something of a wise-cracking Robin Hood figure, stealing only from those who deserve it and never actually harming anyone.
There’s a lot of filler in this book. The history of apostle spoons and overlong banter between Bernie and Carolyn make this a bit more tedious than it needs to be. Even so, it is refreshing to read something with an element of surprise that is upbeat, light, and devoid of the gore, sadism, and foul language of other mystery novels.