High-end thievery usually involves items we don’t have in our own homes: million-dollar gems, Picassos, silver and gold. But what about books? In The Man Who Loved Books Too Much: The True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World Literary Obsession, journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett not only unravels the fascinating story of America’s most-wanted book stealer, she goes deep into the world of book collecting to show just how valuable beloved tomes can be.
The story centers on John Gilkey, a fairly regular guy who develops a passion for books—having them, that is. As he traverses rare-book stores, using bad checks and stolen credit card numbers to acquire what he covets, he runs across Ken Sanders, a book dealer–cum–detective who eventually develops a sting operation to help bring Gilkey down. Bartlett’s tale has all the intrigue of a Law and Order episode, and all the action of The Fugitive. Who knew book collecting could be so exciting?
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