Wow! What a fascinating book about a fascinating man: John Gilkey, professional book thief. Hoover Bartlett seems to have a hard time untangling herself from her story, which gives the book an interesting discordant feel. It is practically impossible to look away from this man's train wreck of a career, while your loyalties unwillingly waver from book dealers, to Gilkey, to the FBI, and back again. Bibliophiles will alternately salivate and shudder at every detail of every book heist. Delicious! Recommended By Dianah H., Powells.com
Synopses & Reviews
John Charles 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. Journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett befriended both eccentric characters and found herself caught in the middle of efforts to recover hidden treasure. With a mixture of suspense, insight, and humor, she not only reveals exactly how Gilkey pulled off his dirtiest crimes 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 listener 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.
"In the late 1990s, John Gilkey stole his way through a significant number of expensive antiquarian book collections. Ken Sanders, a book collector and security chair for the Antiquarian Booksellers' Association, noticed the pattern of thefts and began pursuing Gilkey, whose obsession with his precious old books led him to commit a flurry of other crimes stealing credit cards and forging checks. Bartlett opens up the quirky world of book collecting fanatics with respect but occasionally too much adulation a perspective that Judith Brackley is guilty of in her more effusive moments. But on the whole, Brackley's enthusiasm is welcome; she excels when exploring the minutiae and arcana of the book collecting subculture and executes the male voices well, with a clear distinction and depth. A Riverhead hardcover (Reviews, July 27). (Jan.)" Publishers Weekly (Copyright Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"[Brackley's] soft voice, often near a toned whisper, adds the right atmosphere to a biography of a creepy man and a reporter's long search for his motive." ---AudioFile
In telling the true story of book thief John Charles Gilkey and the man who was driven to capture him, Journalist Allison Hoover Bartlett explores the larger history of book passion, collection, and theft through the ages.
About the Author
Allison Hoover Bartlett works as a freelance writer for newspapers and magazines. Her work has appeared in the New York Times, the Washington Post, Salon, the San Francisco Magazine, Alternative Health, and other publications. Her story about a rare book thief that was published in San Francisco Magazine was included in Best American Crime Reporting 2007. Bartlett is a cofounder of the writing group North 24th, and she works at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto. She lives in San Francisco with her husband and two children. Judith Brackley worked in major market radio for twenty years as an announcer, program director, and producer for commercial broadcast outlets and NPR affiliates. She has numerous radio spots, industrial voice-overs, and narrations to her credit, including for the Prudential Insurance Company, Gillette, Hewlett-Packard, Polaroid, and National Geographic. She is also a nationally published writer.