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As heard on NPR's This American Life
“Absorbing . . . Though it's non-fiction, The Feather Thief contains many of the elements of a classic thriller.” —Maureen Corrigan, NPR’s Fresh Air
“One of the most peculiar and memorable true-crime books ever.” —Christian Science Monitor
A rollicking true-crime adventure and a captivating journey into an underground world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, for readers of The Stranger in the Woods, The Lost City of Z, and The Orchid Thief.
On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London's Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin's obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins—some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin's, Alfred Russel Wallace, who'd risked everything to gather them—and escaped into the darkness.
Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. He was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man's relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man's destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.
|Publisher:||Penguin Publishing Group|
|Product dimensions:||6.10(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.20(d)|
About the Author
Read an Excerpt
Excerpted from "The Feather Thief"
Copyright © 2018 Kirk Wallace Johnson.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Table of Contents
I Dead Birds and Rich Men
1 The Trials of Alfred Russel Wallace 13
2 Lord Rothschild's Museum 38
3 The Feather Fever 43
4 Birth of a Movement 49
5 The Victorian Brotherhood of Fly-tiers 55
6 The Future of Fly-tying 65
II The Tring Heist
7 Featherless in London 85
8 Plan for Museum Invasion.Doc 94
9 The Case of the Broken Window 102
10 "A Very Unusual Crime" 108
11 Hot Birds on a Cold Trail 115
12 Fluteplayer 1988 122
13 Behind Bars 127
14 Rot in Hell 131
15 The Diagnosis 137
16 The Asperger's Defense 141
17 The Missing Skins 148
III Truth and Consequences
18 The 21st International Fly Tying Symposium 155
19 The Lost Memory of the Ocean 163
20 Chasing Leads in a Time Machine 177
21 Dr. Prum's Thumb Drive 187
22 "I'm Not a Thief" 198
23 Three Days in Norway 211
24 Michelangelo Vanishes 230
25 Feathers in the Bloodstream 239
A Note on Sources 281