The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession

By Allison Hoover Bartlett

In the culture of The Orchid Thief, a compelling narrative set in the unusual and genteel international of rare-book amassing: the real tale of an notorious publication thief, his sufferers, and the fellow decided to capture him.

Rare-book robbery is much more common than fine-art robbery. such a lot thieves, in fact, thieve for revenue. John Charles Gilkey steals in simple terms for the affection of books. In an try and comprehend him greater, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett plunged herself into the realm of ebook lust and came across simply how harmful it may well be.

John Gilkey is an obsessed, unrepentant publication thief who has stolen thousands of greenbacks worthy of infrequent books from publication gala's, shops, and libraries round the state. Ken Sanders is the self-appointed "bibliodick" (book broker with a penchant for detective paintings) pushed to seize him. Bartlett befriended either outlandish characters and located herself stuck in the midst of efforts to get well hidden treasure. With a mix of suspense, perception, and humor, she has woven this enjoyable cat-and-mouse chase right into a narrative that not just unearths precisely how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes, the place he stashed the loot, and the way Sanders finally stuck him but in addition explores the romance of books, the entice to gather them, and the temptation to scouse borrow them. Immersing the reader in a wealthy, extensive international of literary obsession, Bartlett seems to be on the heritage of publication ardour, assortment, and robbery in the course of the a long time, to check the yearning that makes a few humans keen to prevent at not anything to own the books they love.

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Status at the sidewalk in entrance of Brick Row, Gilkey stated he might express me what he as a rule seems to be for and the way he is going approximately it. He didn't seem to be fearful. I, nevertheless, used to be all nerves. I had no inspiration what Crichton may well do once we walked in. This, at least, was once going to be awkward. We took the elevator to the second one flooring. The signal open air the elevator indicated that Brick Row Books used to be to the left, down the corridor, yet Gilkey headed to the suitable. I pointed to the signal, and he acknowledged that they need to have moved. Later he famous with a few pride that Brick Row must never be doing rather well nowadays simply because their outdated situation, on the different finish of the corridor, was once larger. We handed the infrequent bookstore of John Windle, who have been worthwhile months past while I consulted him concerning the seventeenth-century German botanical textual content, the publication that had captured my interest and led me to Gilkey and Sanders. i used to be convinced Windle may realize me and, I feared, additionally Gilkey as we handed his store, so I became and appeared the wrong way in order that I wouldn’t need to clarify myself. those are small, quiet retailers, locations the place one client is the norm, is busy, and 3 feels bustling. Gilkey and that i arrived on the door to Brick Row shortly. We walked in and confronted males, John Crichton, the landlord, status close to the rear, and an worker sitting at a table close to the doorway. Did they realize Gilkey? may they name the police? I puzzled how Gilkey might react in the event that they did. in the course of a previous assembly, whilst I had requested him what he was once as much as, looking forward to to listen to approximately books he was once examining, or the examine he was once continuously doing, or his nearly day-by-day visits to the library, he suggested a brand new challenge. “I simply gotta be cautious approximately what I say ’cause a number of the e-book buyers are doing repeat proceedings, tryin’ to get me in difficulty. ” in response to Gilkey, at his weekly parole assembly, his probation officer informed him that an autograph broker in manhattan named Roger Gross had alerted the police a few postcard he had noticed on the market on eBay. (In truth, Sanders had noticed it. ) The postcard was once signed via nineteenth-century composer Johannes Brahms, and Gilkey had stolen it from Gross many years prior (but the police, no longer having proof—since Gross hadn’t but said it missing—had again it to Gilkey after the Treasure Island raid). The week earlier than his probation assembly, Gilkey had bought the Brahms postcard to a Colorado autograph broker, Tod Mueller, yet felt exempt from culpability. “I wager the man [Roger Gross] was once already reimbursed for the loss and he sought after his estate back,” Gilkey stated to me, shaking his head in disbelief. In a weird and wonderful, yet what i used to be starting to snatch as average, distancing of himself from his crimes, he acknowledged, “Now, to me, I wasn’t even concerned. Gross sought after it from the man who bought it from me. someway my identify got here up. ” in some way? as soon as Gilkey had rid himself of the postcard, he felt that he must also be rid of all blame. within Brick Row, traditional mild streamed in the course of the home windows, illuminating books sitting in circumstances alongside each wall and less than home windows, and on a swish arc of cabinets that ran throughout the heart of the store.

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