WILMINGTON — The always steamy world of romance novels heated up even more yesterday when librarians caught a writer setting fire to the books of her arch rival.
The author of such mega-bestsellers as The Love Drug of Tango and Besa Me Mucho Right Now was found on the second floor of the downtown main library sitting on the floor in the back of the room with a pack of matches in one hand, throwing the novels of her competitor onto a heap that had started to smolder.
The librarian who smelled the smoke and discovered the crime immediately called the police and the fire department.
“That nut job could have set the whole freaking place on fire,” said Miss Hortense Q. Twombley, a part-time librarian with a self-described sense of smell “like a grizzly bear.”
Nicoletta DiTregumbo, millionaire author and Wilmington resident, was arrested for destruction of property, say police.
“We’re looking into other charges as well,” said District Attorney Benjamin David.
Without waiting for firefighters, Twombley dumped a bucket of water on the pile of smoldering books and on DiTregumbo herself.
“She done jumped to her feet and hopped all around the room,” said Twombley. “I made sure that water was nice and icy cold before I let her have it. Burning books! I never heard of such an outrage. And in the public libabry!”
With DiTregumbo leaping around the room, evading several other librarians and patrons who tried to catch her, Twombley pulled the wet books off of the pile DiTregumbo had made on the floor.
She recovered nine books, all of which were written by Wilmington romance author Cecilia Bentwhistle-Carston, who often battled DiTregumbo for number one bestseller honors on the national lists.
Bentwhistle-Carston is best known for her books Love Child Bingo and Love Among the Goats.
Her motive for burning the books wasn’t clear, but as DiTregumbo was being led away in handcuffs, onlookers reported that she yelled that the “plagiarizing thief should die screaming.”
Damage to the library floor was minimal, and officials said “a good cleaning” should take care of everything.
Bentwhistle-Carston was contacted by phone and said she would replace all of the books DiTregumbo had damaged. The author said she didn’t know DiTregumbo and had no idea why she would be a target of such a deranged woman.
DiTregumbo was released on $100,000 bail. Her next court appearance is in January.