dino moxi edited the summary of The Man Who Loved Books Too Much Monday, July 4, 2011.
The Man Who Loved Books Too Much, Is a True Story of a Thief, a Detective, and a World of Literary Obsession.The man is John Gilkey, a serial stealer of books who, in one six-month period alone, purloined $100,000 worth of rare titles, normally by paying with dud cheques or using credit card numbers from receipts he acquired while working at Saks in San Francisco; the goal is to assemble "a vast rare books collection <as> the ultimate expression of his identity", and having to steal them only adds to the sport. His would-be nemesis is Ken Sanders, an irascible dealer who as security chief for a booksellers' body becomes a self-styled "bibliodick", seeing Gilkey as Moriarty to his Holmes; shuttling between them enables the author to detail Gilkey's four-year thieving spree and trace how Sanders finally got his man. Bartlett's model is clearly Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief, another study of obsession, and she is similarly deft in using a tale of crime as a portal into a curious subculture. Both men, she recognises, mirror her: Sanders as a sleuth, Gilkey as an avid collector of stories. Is she, too, guilty of theft, she asks herself, in taking his?