The Man Who Loved Books Too Much

The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, written by Allison Hoover Bartlett, is the “True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession.”

Book Lust.  Now and then, one reads of someone who has stolen books from libraries or museums.   John Charles Gilkey stole a fortune in rare books and author Bartlett has written a compelling story about this book thief.  He primarily stole from sellers of rare books.  A quote from the book jacket by Larry McMurtry: Bartlett has written a meticulous and fascinating book about a serial book thief and the persistent sleuth who dogged him for years and finally caught him.  It is especially gripping for those of us who trade in antiquarian books, who owe much to Ken Sanders’s persistence.  A fine read.”

An excerpt:

A few days later, on April 21, Detective Ken Munson struck gold.  Search warrant in hand, he decided to investigate the Treasure Island address Gilkey had provided.  Munson rang the bell, but no one answered.  He used a key he had obtained from the apartment’s management office, and as soon as he opened the door, he knew he was in the right place.  The address was indeed Gilkey’s, and every surface was covered in books.  Moving through the dreary, government-subsidized three-bedroom apartment, Munson and his three accompanying officers found books in the kitchen, on the bookshelf, in the bedroom, on counters, on dining room chairs.  Some of the oldest items were an illuminated leaf from a Book of Hours, circa 1480, encased in a plastic sleeve; a land deed from 1831; and a signature of Andrew Jackson.  Along with the books were coin collections, stamps, documents, baseball cards, posters, and autographed photographs.  There were also books, advertisements, and articles throughout the apartment related to these items and their value.  The officers found what appeared to be shopping lists of book titles and authors.  They also found receipts for hotels, and cards and papers with the names of auction houses and bookstores, several of which Munson recognized as having been victims of fraud within the past three years.  Receipts for various hotels and travel documents were also among the goods.  It appeared that both John Gilkey and his father, Walter Gilkey, were living in the apartment and in John’s bedroom they found a manila envelope with Saks Fifth Avenue credit receipts and pieces of paper with credit card holders, credit card numbers, and expiration dates handwritten on them.


About hopeseguin

Who am I? I'm still discovering just who I am, I suppose. A. Powell Davis writes that "Life is just a chance to grow a soul."

Posted on January 12, 2010, in Books and tagged , , , , , , , . Bookmark the permalink. Leave a comment.

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