For years, a mysterious figure has been using deception, hacking, and subterfuge to steal unpublished manuscripts from literary agents and publishers.

The puzzling things is: nobody really knows why:

“This was a setup Stieg Larsson would have admired: a clever thief adopting multiple aliases, targeting victims around the world, and acting with no clear motive. The manuscripts weren’t being pirated, as far as anyone could tell. Fake Francesca wasn’t demanding a ransom. ‘We assumed it was the Russians,’ Mörk said. ‘But we are the book industry. It’s not like we’re digging gold or researching vaccines.’ Perhaps someone in publishing, or a Hollywood producer, was desperate for early access to books they might buy. Was the thief simply an impatient reader? A strung-out writer in need of ideas?”

Reeves Wiedeman dug into the story, and found himself tied up in knots, as obsessed as the thief themselves.