By Dave Sherwood
BRUNSWICK, Maine (Reuters) - A thrift store employee in coastal Maine got more than he bargained for when he opened a donated book and found a gun.
The gun, a small Derringer-style pistol, was carefully hidden inside a secret compartment carved from the pages of a hardcover book delivered to a Goodwill retail store in Ellsworth, Maine, police said.
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"It was just like you see in the spy movies," said Ellsworth Police Lieutenant Harold Page.
The employee had been sorting through donated books when he came upon one that "just didn't feel right," according to Goodwill spokesman Ken Christian.
"Part of our normal procedure is to go through books and shake them out, to get papers and bookmarks and things out of them," he said. "But this was clearly something more."
The store manager called police, who confirmed the .31 caliber black powder gun was unloaded.
Christian said the book, "Den of Lions," by Associated Press reporter Terry Anderson, had arrived from a central warehouse that receives donations from bins and stores throughout the region, so the store had no way to track its owner.
Police in Ellsworth have not yet found a match for the gun's serial number in national databases.
"I suspect someone was just cleaning out their house and tossed this book without knowing it had a gun inside," Page said.
The book, he said, was sealed with a small magnetic latch.
Goodwill, an international non-profit, sells mostly donated goods at its stores to fund social programs.
Christian said employees occasionally find unexpected donations, including prosthetic legs, adult videos hidden inside mislabeled DVD cases and misplaced dentures, but never a gun until now.
"This was a first," Christian said.
(Editing by Scott Malone and James Dalgleish)