Bookselling burglar Bernie Rhodenbarr doesn't generally get philosophical about his criminal career. He's good at it, it's addictively exciting—and it pays a whole lot better than pushing old tomes. He steals therefore he is, period.
He might well ponder, however, the deeper meaning of events at the luxurious Chelsea brownstone of Herb and Wanda Colcannon, which is apparently burgled three times on the night Bernie breaks in: once before his visit and once after. Fortunately he still manages to lift some fair jewelry and an extremely valuable coin. Unfortunately burglar or burglars number three leave Herb unconscious and Wanda dead . . . and the cops think Rhodenbarr dunnit.
There's no time to get all existential about it—especially after the coin vanishes and the fence fencing it meets with a most severe end. But Bernie is going to have to do some deep thinking to find a way out of this homicidal conundrum.