THE BURGLAR WHO THOUGHT HE WAS BOGART
Since his return last year in The Burglar who Traded Ted Williams, veteran burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr's been spending so much time at a Bogart film festival -- most of it in the company of lovely Ilona Markova -- that he's started to talk and think like Bogie. But when Hugo Candlemas offers him $5,000 to sneak into an East Side apartment and steal a leather portfolio, Bernie reverts to form and breaks in. Sadly, while he's hiding in the closet from the tenant, who's returned unexpectedly to enjoy himself with a really close friend, the portfolio disappears -- and then so does the client, untiil Bernie's old nemesis, Der. Ray Kirschmann, announces that he's turned up dead. The only lead: a photograph Bernie saw while he was looking for the portfolio -- a photo of Vlados I, late King of the marginal eastern European country of Anatruria, a man whose picture decorates Ilona's apartment as well. The coincidence puts Bernie on the trail of a 40-year-old OSS mission, a contemporary free-for-all for the treasures of Anatruria, and a cast of refugees from The Maltese Falcon -- including the fat man, his gunsel, and an Assyrian conspirator -- plus a quintet of secret agents calling themselves the ram, the mouse, the cat, the rabbit, and the woodchuck -- all of whom get into the spirit of things by calling each other "you glutton" and "you gross Circassian swine." A minor divertissement for Bernie, whose foray into Ruritanian romance seems foolish and whose detective skills seem strained to the limit by the outrageous plot. Bernie's charming Bogart fixation, though, only reminds you again why you'd rather be stranded on a desert island with him than any other detective in fiction.