“Rare-book theft is even more widespread than fine-art theft. Most thieves, of course, steal for profit. John Charles Gilkey steals purely for the love of books. In an attempt to understand him better, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the world of book lust and discovered just how dangerous it can be.
Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant book thief who has stolen hundreds of thousands of dollars’ worth of rare books from book fairs, stores, and libraries around the country. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed “bibliodick” (book dealer with a penchant for detective work) driven to catch him. Bartlett befriended both outlandish characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she has woven this entertaining cat-and-mouse chase into a narrative that not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, where he stashed the loot, and how Sanders ultimately caught him but also explores the romance of books, the lure to collect them, and the temptation to steal them. Immersing the reader in a rich, wide world of literary obsession, Bartlett looks at the history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages, to examine the craving that makes some people willing to stop at nothing to possess the books they love.”
I loved this book much more than I anticipated! I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, but Ms. Bartlett’s writing style is very engaging and captures your interest right from the start – and sustains it until the end. I learned so much about the rare book world and I knew absolutely nothing before starting this book! It really does make you think about becoming a collector! Who knew that some works are with thousands and hundreds of thousands of dollars?! I had no idea! I definitely recommend this book to any bibliophile out there. It will make you look at books – and the people who covet them – in a whole new light! Very good read and highly recommended!
Many thanks to Lydia Hirt from Riverhead/Putnam Books for sending me this review copy!