Read The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep by Lawrence Block Online


Evan Michael Tanner hasn't slept in more than a decade—not since a small piece of battlefield shrapnel invaded his skull and obliterated his brain's sleep center. Still, he's managed to find numerous inventive ways to occupy his waking hours.Tanner is a card-carrying member of hundreds of international organizations, from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Order to theEvan Michael Tanner hasn't slept in more than a decade—not since a small piece of battlefield shrapnel invaded his skull and obliterated his brain's sleep center. Still, he's managed to find numerous inventive ways to occupy his waking hours.Tanner is a card-carrying member of hundreds of international organizations, from the Internal Macedonian Revolutionary Order to the Flat Earth Society—not because he believes in their myriad lost causes, he's simply a joiner by nature. Besides, it gives him something to do.The Russians think Tanner is a CIA operative on a covert mission. The CIA is certain he's a Soviet agent. Actually, he's in Turkey pursuing a fortune in hidden Armenian gold. But Tanner's up for anything, including a little spycraft, if it helps him reach his big payday. And if need be, he'll even start a small revolution . . ....

Title : The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep
Author :
Rating :
ISBN : 9780061258060
Format Type : Paperback
Number of Pages : 224 Pages
Status : Available For Download
Last checked : 21 Minutes ago!

The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep Reviews

  • Jason Koivu
    2019-03-19 10:49

    Is this a caper comedy? A spy thriller? Revolutionary tract? Social commentary? Who the hell knows, but it doesn't matter. The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep by Lawrence Block is just good, solid fun!Evan Tanner is a complicated fella. A war vet with terminal insomnia, Tanner put his eight hours -give or take- to learn and practice a good many things. He's a multi-talented individual who decides to use those talents to steal a massive pile of gold. Will he put it to good use? Probably...perhaps. That's not really the point. This is about good old action-adventure good times...I think.At times I felt like I was reading a James Bond novel. This was assisted by Block mentioning Bond about a dozen times. Then the story will take a comedic turn and it feels more like Candide. The comedic turns pile up so much that when the book switches gears and becomes very For Whom the Bell Tolls with a dryly-related and graphically bloody revolution it's somewhat jarring. Hell, it's very jarring to have women and children getting cut in half and heads blown off by gun fire after you've settled into a lighter, more humorous style. This is the first in the Tanner series and one of Block's earlier books. Not earliest. I believe he had at least ten years of published work under his belt already. So, while this is rougher than his later work and a bit stiff, The Thief Who Couldn't Sleep is still competent material with an exciting flair that makes for flat out fun reading. I'll probably continue on with the series in the future.

  • Karl
    2019-03-13 09:17

    This copy is signed by Lawrence Block.

  • Andrew Smith
    2019-02-18 08:56

    It’s an odd book, this. Set in the 1960’s, this madcap caper has a man called Evan Tanner chasing around Europe looking for gold that has been hidden away in Turkey for some 40 years. As a result of an injury he sustained in the Korean War, Evan doesn’t sleep – ever. This gives him a number of advantages he utilises to the full, and he needs to as he gets into a lot of trouble along the way.The book is the first of a series Block penned, mainly during a five-year period from 1966, though there was a later, and potentially final, episode released in 1998. It’s unlike anything else I’ve come across from this prodigiously productive writer. It’s funny – though Tanner is not as wry as LB’s book-seller/burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr - but I can’t quite pigeon hole this story. It’s not crime fiction (his normal bread and butter) and it’s not purely comedic. It might have pretentions to be a thriller… but it’s not particularly thrilling. I give up!The enjoyment here is in the journey and in admiring how Tanner extricates himself from one predicament after another. The writing is crisp and up to the author’s early standard – in other words, pretty good but not as refined as it would become. As a footnote, there’s some historical interest here as Tanner links up with a number of nationalist groups on his travels. For example, his adventures in the Balkans reflect the stresses and inter-rivalries experienced by various factions within the then Socialist Federal Republic of Yugoslavia. Overall it’s an ok read. But probably one for stalwart LB fans and others simply interested in passing a few hours in the company of something quick and unchallenging.

  • Eric_W
    2019-02-23 08:51

    One can see the origins of Bernie Rhodenbarr in this delightful early work of Block. Evan Michael Tanner is an advocate of lost causes. He also can’t sleep. In the Korean War, his “sleep center” was destroyed by a piece of shrapnel. Now on disability, he tells people he earns extra money by being a “stentaphator,” which he defines as someone who takes tests and writes papers for students who would rather not. He compensates for their personal inadequacies. “Stentaphators are subsidiary scholars concerned with suasion and ambidexterity.” At least that’s what he tells the Turkish authorities who arrest him at the border. He belongs to too many weird organizations, including the Flat Earth Society of Middlesex, England. When asked why he is in Turkey – the authorities assume he is a spy working for the CIA, especially after the CIA denies that he does – he replies that he is there to purchase counterfeit coins. It is not illegal in Turkey to create counterfeit coins of other nationalities, only Turkish, and Tanner wants to have a counterfeiter make fake Armenian coins and then sell them in the U.S. as genuine. Of course, his real reason for being in Turkey was to steal $3,000,000 in gold.Now if you think that’s bizarre. . . . Block, who has written more novels than he has kept track of, somewhere over fifty, embarked a few years ago on a trip to visit every town named Buffalo in the country. So far he and his wife have been to more than seventy places by that name.

  • Mike French
    2019-02-18 04:06

    First book of Tanner series I have read. Very different character than Keller or Rhodenbarr, but very enjoyable. The next one in the series will be on my "To Read" list ASAP!

  • Vikas Datta
    2019-02-18 08:08

    Subversively delightful... Mr Tanner's exploits are so outrageously engrossing that you can't stop anywhere till the end... can't wait to read the others..

  • Karen
    2019-03-09 10:15

    Evan Tanner lost his ability to sleep when he was wounded by a piece of shrapnel in Korea. He uses his extra waking hours to read, learn languages, and write theses for money. He has the unique hobby of joining lost cause organizations, in fact, he belongs to hundreds of them. He is a con man and a thief and upon learning of a treasure of hidden Armenian gold he takes off to claim it, landing himself in a Turkish prison and involved in a revolution before getting a chance at the treasure.

  • Rob Smith
    2019-02-28 03:16

    I’ve read block before and he does approach his writing in an unusual way. But this was really something. A vibrant character that embarks on a haplessly adventure through many countries and many unusual, quirky characters. The writing is as fresh today as it was when this book first came out in 1966.I’m amazed at the vast amount of fascinating characters Block created in this book and how he assembled all of them, in their many locations, with their very individual stories, the main character’s story and so much more within 200 pages. Outstanding work.On top of it all this book is superbly written. The writing makes it very difficult to put the book down. There’s also an energy to Block’s writing that helps the characters and story pop out.Definitely in the top 5 of books I’ve read this year.Bottom line: I recommend this book. 10 out of 10 points.

  • Mark
    2019-02-21 05:01

    A fascinating spin on the spy genre, Block creates an engaging character in Evan Michael Tanner, whose sleep center was destroyed by shrapnel during the Korean War. Though he compensates for his inability to sleep by a combination of physical rest and meditative techniques, he finds he has a lot of free time on his hands upon his return stateside. He uses this time by learning many foreign languages, joining a number of "lost causes" (groups and organizations whose goals will most likely remain forever unattainable, and researching a variety of subjects to write term papers for payment from rich college students. With this background, his accidental recruitment into a super-secret covert organization makes him an ideal agent for their purposes. Block keep tongue firmly in cheek as he sends Tanner traveling from one end of the globe to the other taking on a variety of missions. I'm thinking it's high time I re-read this first book in the series once more.

  • Nooilforpacifists
    2019-02-25 05:09

    The title is a misnomer: it's more of thriller/spy fiction than mystery. But everything else about this book is pure gold. Plainly a comic novel (written in two parts, and originally published under a pseudonym), it introduces Evan Tanner, a who took a hunk of shrapnel in the Korean War, and now has no need to sleep. Instead, he immerses himself in lost causes, while earning his pay forging test papers for local NYC graduate students. That's how he spots an opportunity for profit--only it turns out vastly more complicated, and requires a lot of lies. Of the sequels, only "Tanner's Twelve Swingers" is good (and it's also five stars).

  • Richard
    2019-03-08 10:56

    Very dull and slow for a Lawrence Block story. Interesting twist at the end.

  • Mike
    2019-02-25 11:11

    This book seemed to get off to a slow start. Here we have a Korean War veteran who took a piece of shrapnel to the head and can't sleep...ever. So,he becomes a polyglot, nay, a summa cum polyglot...seems he speaks every language under the sun (except Basque!) like a native. Yeah, well.... Anyway, it picks up in the second half and we get a rollicking good story as would be expected from Mr. Block but one that requires the reader to turn off his BS meter along the way.

  • Daniel Sevitt
    2019-03-14 07:52

    Incoherent, bonkers fluff from Block circa 1966.Wearing its Bond influences on its sleeve Tanner travels throughout Europe in a mad plot to recover lost gold while stirring up trouble and literally fomenting a revolution. As mad as an attaché case full of frogs, but somehow charming in its daftness.

  • Kim Dailey
    2019-03-03 10:00

    I remember reading this back in my teens and loving it. It's Harry Dresden without the magic.

  • Dave
    2019-02-20 04:11

    “The Thief Who Couldn’t Sleep” is a comedic adventure, the first in a series by Block. Evan Tanner is a guy who caught a piece of shrapnel in his brain during the Korean War and it apparently did something to his sleep center. He doesn’t sleep. Ever. He stays up, instead, learning languages and joining lost causes and random political groups. He sometimes supports himself by writing Phd thesises for students or taking tests for them. He wanders the earth from country to country when adventure takes him there. No one seems to understand who he is or what he is doing in their country. Not the Turks. Not the Irish. No one. When he learns of a lost hoard of Armenian gold, he journeys across the world, thinking that there could be millions there and he could then fund all kinds of lost political causes.The concept sounds kind of silly and, at times, slapstick, but Block gets some contact on the ball here and hits it out. It is adventure that is hard to put down and fun to read. James Bond he is not, but his adventures and misadventures are a lot of fun, particularly his reasoning on why he goes and does things.In globetrotting journeys, Tanner ends up in Turkish prisons, Irish airports, in custody, out of custody, sneaking across borders with a madman, and the like.This is simply a good, old-fashioned, fun story to read.

  • Craig Childs
    2019-03-19 08:54

    This comedy-adventure novel is dominated by a witty examination of geopolitical events. Evan Tanner is a globe-trotting adventurer, part-time thief and part-time spy. He never sleeps due to a war wound that wiped out the sleep center in his brain; he spends his spare time learning languages and joining subversive political groups with hopeless causes. Lawrence Block is noted for his comedic crime novels, most prominently the Bernie Rhodenbarr series (1977-2013) and the Hit Man/John Keller series (1998-2016). This 1966 novel was his first attempt at comedy, and it took the form of a spy novel with overtures of criminal activity. (Tanner's goal, in fact, is robbery--to steal 600 pounds of gold coins from Turkey.) It lacks polish at times, and the pacing is a bit uneven, but the story succeeds more times than it fails. The ending is especially funny and yet almost inevitable in its own way.The novel is sprinkled throughout with dry, witty geopolitical insights unique to anything else I have read from Lawrence Block. It helps to have a working knowledge of geopolitical events in the 1960’s. For example, one significant plot line involves the historical tensions between Turkey, Armenia, and Greece. This was a subject I knew nothing about. I did not realize until googled it that present-day Armenia did not even exist in 1966. At the time, it was under Turkish and Soviet control.Tanner falls in with the IRA in Ireland and anti-Franco anarchists in Spain. The complexities of Yugoslavian ethnic groups are explored. It is ironic to see how some “lost causes” of the 60’s, such as the Free Croatia and Macedonia separatist movements, have actually come to pass in modern times.My favorite sequence is small revolution that Tanner inadvertently ignites in Macedonia. It is an unexpectedly dark and violent episode in the middle of an otherwise light-hearted jaunt. This is different from Block’s other series, which I appreciate, and the character has enough potential to convince me to proceed with the next entry, The Cancelled Czech.

  • Rick Ludwig
    2019-02-23 02:49

    I have been a devotee of Lawrence Block's "Burglar who..." Bernie Rhodenbarr series for nearly two decades, reading each one as soon as it came out, once I got hooked. In the absence of any new Bernie books, I decided to give another of his acclaimed series a try, the Evan Tanner books. As I am nothing if not anal, I decided to start with the first book in this series, written back in 1966, when I was a mere sixteen years old. You can do the math, I am now retired. So, how did I like it? Mr. Block you really know how to create interesting and unusual characters. What would it be like to be physically unable to sleep? What kind of work would you do? How would you spend all of that extra time?I love Lawrence Block's answer to that question - you would get yourself into all kinds of trouble. Fortunately, you would also be smart and resourceful enough to get yourself out of most of that trouble. Evan Tanner is seemingly able to roll with the punches and keep on coming. By the slightly unexpected conclusion, he demonstrates that he has enough persistence and unique willingness to try the unexpected to extricate himself from extreme danger and come out of it all ahead of the game.I like this guy and I look forward to a nice long period of seeing where he goes from here. I am going to add all of the Tanner books to my want to read list. Was this book perfect - no. It threw way to much at the reader and stretched credulity, but it was a heck of a lot of fun. It was also a bit dated, given that a good chunk of it took place in the former Yugoslavia, but Block managed to anticipate the dissolution of this conglomeration of ethnicities, even if he probably doubted the likelihood that it would occur as soon as it did.

  • Greg
    2019-02-23 07:15

    Evan Tanner is quickly becoming yet another of my literary heroes. Created by Mr Block back in 1966, the books have only just become available in e-format and consequently I have only just begun to saviour the delights of the apparent thief/ international diplomat / innocent victim of international politics. The character of Evan Tanner is remarkable complex. He is literate, incredibly well read and yet without a college degree. He has a strong sense of humour, is incredibly brave and perfectly capable in hand to hand combat. He never sleeps thanks to complications from a war injury suffered in Korea and of course his charms virtually guarantee plenty of social and sexual company virtually at will. What a lucky guy!The book is a joy to read and consequently flies along at supersonic speed with a good dose of humour, suspense, plot twists. Secondary / supporting characters are also as beautifully drawn as the towns and cities – and aeroplanes - the book is set in. For example, when Tanner first set his eyes on Ireland my heart and soul yearned to witness the country’s beauty first hand. The book is exciting to read, as well as a fun trip into the imagination of one of the world’s all time great story tellers.I award this classic four stars. Hugely recommended but as it is the first volume of what promises to be an entertaining 8 book series, I withhold full marks in order to recognise greatness.It is a Lawrence Block book, after all.

  • Lisa Hannon
    2019-03-12 07:53

    I was torn about how to review this book...two or three? For me it was a two but I can still appreciate this genre (which for me is "bizarre" and also at times "funny.") It isn't really a mystery, but more of a spy book, but then the main character isn't really a spy at all. It was different and clever to set the protagonist up as someone who was incapable of sleeping due to an injury. Once I got into Evan Michael Tanner's purpose, I had to keep reading to find out what was going to happen. His "journey" is too bizarre not to be able to suspend disbelief. Who could make that up? Lawrence Block could, I guess. This is the first book by this author I have read. I am making it a habit this summer to actually visit the library and do some random searches of the stacks. I probably won't read more of his; not that I don't appreciate him. It seems the author may be a bit random himself since one of the reviews I read said he and his wife decided to visit every city named Buffalo? We all want to ask and know...why? I asked that same question of Evan Michael Tanner frequently. I laughed a lot and shook my head a lot, finding this more funny than anything else until he actually hurts someone (that didn't seem to fit). I sort of lost interest toward the end and stopped caring.

  • Ubiquitousbastard
    2019-03-06 03:06

    Firstly, there wasn't all that much thieving for a book that has "thief" in the title. (view spoiler)[He isn't even a real thief, more like a treasure hunter. Okay, up until the part where he has to steal to get by, but that's not what I think of when I think of fictional thieves. (hide spoiler)]This was a good little read to pass a few hours, but nothing overtly special. Tanner was somewhat entertaining at times, kind of meh at times, and then...okay. There's the fact that he manages to score with every chick he encounters. I know it's supposed to be Bond-esque, but it feels more like a tribute than a parody to that kind of behavior, which irks. Maybe it is supposed to be a parody, and is just done so straight, or is so subtly nuanced that I missed it, but as it is, it was annoying.Overall, it was worth the time to read, and kind of fun to see out extravagantly outlandish the plot was going to get. I'll probably give the next book in the series a shot.

  • Kevin
    2019-03-20 07:58

    It is probably an index of this having been a quality read that I just now found myself thinking back on it, fondly, and not at all for the first time since making quick work of it a few years ago. Of course, this could also be a function of my being awake at a weird hour engaged in studying multiple languages, which is a distinctly Evan Michael Tanner variety of activity. In any event, this book served as a promising start to a series I'm surprised has yet to serve as the basis for any filmed adaptations that I'm aware of; I'm making a note to make further progress in the series at the soonest opportunity. Pairs well with trips to European conflict zones, and probably best read in the middle of the night.

  • Ensiform
    2019-03-05 08:57

    Evan Tanner is a Korea vet who, due to a freak head wound from shrapnel, never sleeps. So he spends his nights learning languages and facts, and joins every organization there is for a hobby. When he meets an Armenian woman who tells him about gold hidden from the Turks, Tanner heads off to Turkey. He’s arrested and deported, which results in an over the top, madcap spree across Europe back to Turkey again.This book (the first in a series) is far less realistic and gritty than Block’s Scudder books, and it calls for far more suspension of disbelief (lack of sleep or not, few people learn dozens of languages well enough to hide their nationality). Still, it’s huge fun, like a sort of James Bond lite, with as much regard for realism as those later films.

  • Glenn Younger
    2019-03-05 07:57

    What a fun easy read. Five stars if you're in the mood for a fast paced, slightly surreal, and decidedly madcap adventure through a Europe and Turkey that once was in the sixties. Written in a breezy first person voice, we discover how Evan Tanner accidentally becomes an unofficial spy for a secret arm of the US government, an organization so secret that its Chief doesn't even know all its members. Is Evan Tanner smart, wily, or simply blessed with good old dumb luck plain and simple? Or maybe a bit of all three? In any case, I fell in love with the character and the break in the day that such irreverent enthusiasm can bring to you.I read one book after the other in the series, each in a couple of hours. It's pure fun fluff.

  • Ravi
    2019-03-21 05:55

    The concept of a person who cant sleep and has an extra 8 hours on hand and what he would do with it brought about the initial Evan Tanner novel as per the authour.He does take it to the next level with this book though since someone who has never shot a gun kills 3 people with 3 shots.I have given it 4 stars though since the concept of a person who cannot sleep and the extra time he has is intriguing for a thriller reader like me.I mean even though the story seems to be well researched , it does have it flaws and there is basically no plot or mystery in the book, it is a fun read.Evan tanner is a character with attitude and this is what makes him most likeable.Would recommend it as a read if you happen to get your hands on the book.

  • Darth
    2019-03-08 03:18

    Fun quick read, this is the story of Korean war veteran Evan Tanner, who was injured in Korea, the sum total effect of which was to obliterate his sleep center, thus, he litrerally never sleeps.In this condition, and lacking an XBOX to fill his days with meaningless RPG games like Fallout and Kingdom of Amalur: Reckoning, or the Elder Scrolls series, Evan devotes his time to joining groups championing lost causes, and learning all the foreign languages he can.Without giving away the story, Evan finds himself in a bad spot and gets through it with a fairly believable mix of every man style bumbling and his skills gained through long hours of not sleeping.A few scenes of graphic violence, but otherwise, just about anyone should enjoy this one.

  • Andersreads
    2019-02-23 03:55

    Although this book is somewhat dated (written in 1968), it is still a fun little mystery/adventure story. I'm not a huge mystery reader, but I somehow have the idea that Lawrence Block created this mini-genre in the mystery genre--a flawed main character who still does good. The premise of this book, that Evan Tanner is unable to sleep, is clever. Tanner's moral compass is definitely bent; he sees nothing wrong with stealing a bunch of gold coins nor of writing thesis' for students to get their degrees, nor does he have a problem with killing people in the middle of an uprising. However, he draws the line at killing people who might prevent him from stealing. If you're into mysteries and haven't read Lawrence Block, I'd recommend starting with this one.

  • Joyce McKune
    2019-03-17 10:10

    Evan Tanner had 8 extra hours each day because after a head injury he no longer need sleep. He spent that time reading and learning languages. After hearing about a cache of gold lost and forgotten in Turkey since the war, he decided to go retrieve it, but landed in a Turkish jail instead because he is a "joiner" and is a member of a multitude of odd groups and even before it was fashionable, was on the no fly lists.Darn good book for being so old. Written in 1966. Everything was so cheap, and seems odd that a spy wouldn't have a mobile phone much less all the other "spy toys". Can't wait to get my hand on the next episode.

  • Sara
    2019-02-19 08:05

    This books is quite funny in the "The Mouse that Roared" sort of way, but poking fun at the silliness of spy games. Block has created an absurd plot, getting deliberately more unbelievable and yet its so fun, you certainly can't put it down. Because Block is a solid writer, its sort of surprising to see a couple of minor inconsistencies. For example at one point Tanner says he'd never shot a gun except at a target, but he was wounded in the Korean War, so that's not quite in line. But such things don't mar the good time and don't get in the way of the plot. I have bought the next Tanner and hope its just as good a time.

  • Tommy Verhaegen
    2019-02-28 03:50

    We maken kennis met Evan Tanner, een man die zijn slaapvermogen is kwijtgeraakt door een granaatscherf in zijn hersens. Om al die extra tijd nuttig te besteden leest hij enorm veel, leert regelmatig nieuwe talen bij en wordt lid van elk vereniging (politiek of niet) die een - onbereikbaar - doel nastreeft, o.a. vele onafhankelijkheidsbewegingen maar ook het Genootschap van de platte Aarde. Hij komt op het spoor van een grote goudschat waar hij achteraan gaat. Dan begint een klopjacht door de landen achter het ijzeren gordijn en het Midden-Oosten waarbij hij moet trachten te overleven door middel van zijn uitgebreide talenkennis en kennissenkring uit de genootschappen waar hij lid van is.

  • ABC
    2019-03-20 04:52

    The blurb about the author says he has written over forty books, and this book feels like it was churned out. There are tons of gimmicks--the hero never has to sleep and he can speak virtually all European languages perfectly--the regular ones like Spanish and Italian, but also Armenian and Turkish and Bulgarian and so on. But not Basque. I just found this book too unbelievable and not exciting.Oh, and it has the worst sex scene I have ever read. Totally corny, and not even sexy enough to be fun.