Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty
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Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty

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by Craig Welch
     
 

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A unique blend of natural history and crime drama, Shell Games by Craig Welch is a riveting tale of rogues, scoundrels, and the hunt for nature’s bounty in the tradition of The Orchid Thief. A stranger-than-fiction true story centered around a larger-than-life character who pursued a larger-than-life clam—the Geoduck—and then led

Overview

A unique blend of natural history and crime drama, Shell Games by Craig Welch is a riveting tale of rogues, scoundrels, and the hunt for nature’s bounty in the tradition of The Orchid Thief. A stranger-than-fiction true story centered around a larger-than-life character who pursued a larger-than-life clam—the Geoduck—and then led wildlife police on a two-year-long chase, Shell Games is enthralling and remarkable from page one on.

Editorial Reviews

Mark Obmascik
“With hit men, snitches, and midnight smuggling runs, this book has all the adventure of a Miami Vice episode. That it reads like a detective novel - with the quarry being millions of dollars of freakishly large clams - is testament to the formidable writing and reporting talents of Craig Welch.”
Washington Post
“[A]n engrossing tale of both human excesses and the attempts of a few brave souls’ to curb them. Everyone, not just the denizens of Puget Sound, has a stake in this battle’s outcome.”
Oregonian
“Welch brings us into the underworld of shellfish smuggling from multiple angles...Shell Games is an eye-opener, exposing a murky world operating just below the surface.”
Wall Street Journal
“Riveting...Ed Volz and Doug Tobin are perfect antagonists.”
Seattle Times
“Endlessly fascinating.”
Juliet Eilperin
Craig Welch's Shell Games has the most unlikely of central characters: the massive geoduck clam, a tasty creature that resides in the waters of Puget Sound and resembles the raciest part of the male anatomy. Pronounced "gooey-duck," the valuable shellfish and the humans who cannot resist plundering it make for a compelling tale that is at once ridiculous and tragic…Welch has clearly done his homework, which has allowed him to write an engrossing tale of both human excesses and the attempts of a few brave souls' to curb them. Everyone, not just the denizens of Puget Sound, has a stake in this battle's outcome.
—The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
In this deep-sea true-crime narrative, journalist Welch entertains and horrifies with tales of poachers and the law enforcement officers devoted to chasing them down. Stories range across the wildlife spectrum, from bears killed for their gallbladders (used “to treat cancers, burns, and liver and stomach problems”) to Moonies harvesting baby leopard sharks off California’s Catalina Island for pet shops. The book focuses on fisheries in the Pacific Northwest and features the “oversize, ugly, and still somehow charming” geoduck clam, which resembles nothing more than “a giant penis,” and an equally larger-than-life Native American fisherman and artist, Doug Tobin, “a charmer, a prankster, a benefactor, and a bully.” Tobin, originally enlisted by Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife detectives, as an informant to help catch geoduck poachers, ends up stealing millions of dollars worth of geoduck and Dungeness crab, the ecological consequences of which will take decades to evaluate. Welch’s vivid depictions and broad coverage of this global, ecologically disastrous illegal trafficking provide a sympathetic glimpse into the dedication and frustration of wildlife crime fighters. (Apr.)
Library Journal
In this compelling debut, award-winning journalist Welch offers an insider's view of the illegal international trade in protected wildlife. At the heart of the story is the geoduck, a huge and obscene-looking burrowing clam native to the Pacific Northwest. Prized as a culinary delicacy, particularly in Asian markets, geoducks have been victims of illegal poaching for over a century. But in the 1990s, a single enigmatic poacher and his smuggling ring stripped Puget Sound of thousands of pounds and millions of dollars worth of geoducks. Welch draws upon hundreds of interviews with police detectives, divers, smugglers, and federal agents—as well as a nuanced understanding of Washington's cultural and natural history—to weave a fascinating tale of this legendary poaching episode and the resulting environmental disaster. VERDICT Although this work fits squarely in the true-crime category, the criminals are quirky rather than terrifying and the pacing is measured rather than breathless, making it an appropriate choice for readers who prefer less intensity in true-crime narratives. Like Mark Griffiths's The Lotus Quest (reviewed above), this will also appeal to readers who enjoyed Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief. [Ebook edition: ISBN 978-0-06-198798-4.]—Kelsy Peterson, Prairie Village, KS

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780061537141
Publisher:
HarperCollins Publishers
Publication date:
04/12/2011
Pages:
288
Sales rank:
930,244
Product dimensions:
5.30(w) x 7.90(h) x 0.80(d)

What People are saying about this

Mark Obmascik
“With hit men, snitches, and midnight smuggling runs, this book has all the adventure of a Miami Vice episode. That it reads like a detective novel - with the quarry being millions of dollars of freakishly large clams - is testament to the formidable writing and reporting talents of Craig Welch.”

Meet the Author

Craig Welch is the environmental writer for the Seattle Times, a fellow at Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism, and a two-time winner of the Society of Environmental Journalists' top prize for beat reporting.

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Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Mermaid rp is weird. No one ever does anything.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Reall nothing. U?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
harstan More than 1 year ago
From the start with the poacher "Hunt" on Puget Sound led by Detectives Volz and Jarmon, fact is stranger than fiction as Craig Welch affirms with these entertaining yet also horrifying true crimes at sea collection. The entries occur in the Pacific Northwest and run the gamut of what poachers will do for profit. Although the prime focus is the Washington State fisheries, bears are killed to harvest their gallbladders as medical remedies and several others similar animal slaughters are highlighted also. Perhaps the biggest shocker is the tale of charismatic Native American artist Doug Tobin, who the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hired as an informant to enable them to catch geoduck poachers; he turns out to be a double agent as he is one of the prime poachers. This well written true crime compilation will fascinate and shock readers as dedicated law enforcement officials try to prevent poaching on the Washington State waters. No question that Craig Welch provides much of the entries from the perspective of the cops working the seaways who he admires as his empathizes are with these hard working game wardens who face danger. However, he also makes the "Crab Men" and "Clam Kings", etc. come across as dedicated capitalists as to the professional poachers this is a business. Harriet Klausner