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This book is a great example of why "don't judge a book by it's cover" goes both ways. At first glance, everything about it appealed to me: the collection of antique books, the mystery man, the subtitle: "true story!" "detective!" "literary obsession!" The title was ridiculous, but I was willing to overlook that. Suffice it to say, I was disappointed.

In short, this book was rarely engaging.

In long, it could have been so much more. For starters, I found myself annoyed with the author at every turn. Part of this is personal---while she may like to read, she doesn't LOVE books. She doesn't understand the mind of a collector. She doesn't get why someone would forego decent groceries in order to keep themselves stocked in books. I suppose I shouldn't fault her for that...but I do. The other thing that bugged me the most was the constant switching between Gilkey's and Sanders's story lines, peppered with random pop-ups of random stories that didn't follow Gilkey or Sanders. It seems the author couldn't decide what kind of a book she wanted to write, but she knew she wanted it to be about book thieves. Oh, and book collecting. Oh yeah, and other bookish stuff to help fill space. This idea could possibly work somewhere in some book---but in this one, it's very choppy and convoluted.

I started this new paragraph to get away from picking on the author...but there's actually more. She's a mix of pushy, naive and flighty, in a senior-class-president sort of way. She comes across as super narrow-minded on page 112 when she says, "It occurred to me how unusual it is to see a person of color at a rare book fair or store. This has been an old-white-man's game for a long time, but it appeared, at that moment, that perhaps things were changing." First off, she makes it clear in other places that hanging out at rare book fairs and stores has never been her thing before researching this book so she's making dumb assumptions with no proof. Secondly, does she think 21st century San Francisco has been the book-buying hub of the universe for the last 500 years? Does she not realize that there are, and have been, rare books being bought, the world over, by people from all cultures---most of them NOT rich white guys from Cali? Ugh.

Moving on to the story...there were some interesting parts, for sure. I especially liked learning about the different amazing books that are out there and how much they're worth. It was crushing to hear how much theft goes on and goes unreported. I also found myself asking if I could ever bring myself to steal a book I desperately wanted. I decided that I wouldn't---but the desire would be there. Deeply.

I could relate to those who would pay a seemingly outrageous price for a coveted book---but I couldn't relate to Gilkey. His motives for stealing the books were never clearly laid out by the author, though I got the feeling that she was attempting to make them known. She threw in a mention once or twice that he enjoyed reading...but, you know...

I got the impression that Gilkey wasn't necessarily enamored of books in particular---he'd just found an obsession and latched on. I found it frustrating that the author didn't dig more deeply into the mental issues that were so obviously there. She barely touched the idea of his mental state, deciding he must be fine since a judge had ruled that way "that one time"... A study of the disorders that would cause a person to act in ALL the weird ways Gilkey did would have been really beneficial to this story and would have helped flesh out the character a bit.

The book ends without one knowing it. A little Gilkey ramble and then she's done. I can't describe how utterly irritated I am with this woman's writing. The only consolation is that the book is short. I wanted to abandon it so many times, but had already invested several nights to slogging through it by the time I was really ready to chuck it across the attic.
… (lisätietoja)
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classyhomemaker | 177 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Dec 11, 2023 |
For the most part I enjoyed this book. It was a ripping yarn, well researched and well written however a disappointing ending prevented this from being a 5 star book. As a collector I could relate to some of the madness but the complete lack of morality of the thief left me stumped. Could someone be so full of guile, a rat cunning genius or were they mentally impaired and dead lucky? It did make me wonder. The book provided wonderful insights into the history and personalities of rare book collectors and dealers. I was a little disappointed that many collectors have no interest in actually reading their quarry but then I don't collect rare books and see books as an opportunity to immerse myself in other worlds through the stories within. I don't need first editions or even ownership to enjoy books. Parts of this book were excerpted in a Best American Crime Anthology and the author's tactful and remarkable access to a criminal was amazing. The author walked a tightrope between being a reporter or being an accessory to crime. A very interesting book, recommended for book lovers.… (lisätietoja)
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secondhandrose | 177 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Oct 31, 2023 |
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lschiff | 177 muuta kirja-arvostelua | Sep 24, 2023 |


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