Stunned onlookers say the political thriller was left completely open for the taking for nearly five straight minutes.

BOSTON—Explaining that he had made no effort to safeguard the book or even conceal it from sight, sources reported that brazen coffee shop patron Justin Dill left his copy of Vince Flynn’s counterterrorism thriller Consent To Kill completely unattended while using the restroom Friday.

Witnesses confirmed that the man—who was reportedly seated at a centrally located table in the Downtown Grounds café in full view of some two dozen other patrons—had been reading for nearly half an hour before closing the book, standing up from his chair, and casually walking away, recklessly leaving the eighth installment of Flynn’s popular Mitch Rapp series alone on the tabletop where anyone could take it.

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“Wow, I can’t believe he left that book just sitting out there in the open like that,” said fellow customer Robert Green, who explained how he at first believed Dill was stepping away from the espionage novel for only a few moments to retrieve a utensil or napkin from the counter, but was soon left in disbelief upon realizing that the man had brashly ventured to the bathroom, leaving his book out of his sight for several consecutive minutes. “You’d think he’d be concerned enough to ask someone nearby if they would keep an eye on it. But no, he just got up and decided to chance it.”

“He’s just asking for trouble,” Green added.

Numerous onlookers said they had “no idea what [Dill] was thinking,” pointing out that the table on which the daring man left the 704-page paperback was situated within several paces of the café’s front door, which would make it relatively easy for any would-be thief to snatch the 2006 International Thriller Writers Award Nominee and escape from the premises in a matter of seconds.

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In addition, sources noted that Dill’s table abutted the café’s large street-facing window, placing the book in plain view of dozens of passersby, any of whom could have noticed it was unguarded, stepped inside, and quietly slipped it under their arm before vanishing.

“I hope he knows it’s not our responsibility if anything happens,” said barista Leslie Walker, referring to the store’s policy of not being held liable for lost or stolen items. “It’s his business if he wants to leave it by itself where everyone can see it, but he’s taking a risk. Especially during the morning rush.”

“People are going to notice a book like that just sitting on a table,” she continued.

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Many patrons expressed their bafflement to reporters, noting that the audacious 36-year-old could have, at the very least, taken the quick and simple step of hiding his copy of the critically praised sequel to The New York Times bestseller Memorial Day in his backpack, which they noted was resting on the seat of an adjacent chair.

Moreover, a number of customers stated that if it was their copy of the fictional work of geopolitical intrigue, they would likely go so far as to take it into the restroom with them.

“We’re in a city—this isn’t a small town where you don’t have to worry where you leave your suspense novels,” said café patron Angela Vecchio, noting that for all Dill knew, someone at the next table could have been eyeing the fast-paced third-person account of a high-stakes international manhunt as soon as he took it out and simply been lying in wait for an opportunity to swipe it. “It’s crazy to me that he even chose to bring that thing out in public. It looks practically brand-new.”

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Added Vecchio, “If I had a nice book like that, I would definitely leave it at home.”

At press time, sources reported that Dill had nonchalantly returned from the bathroom and resumed reading, evidently unaware how close he had come to never seeing the book that the Minneapolis Star Tribune hailed as a “heavyweight in the political thriller arena” again.