The Feather Thief
As a true crime fan, I was intrigued by the premise of Kirk Wallace Johnson’s book ‘The Feather Thief’. This really is one of those cases where you can’t judge the book by its cover.
Suffering from from his time in Iraq, Johnson was fly-fishing when his guide told him about a crime that had taken place. The story revolves around rare and priceless stolen feathers.
The book follows the story of Edwin Rist, a young American flute player and expert tier of salmon flies. In 2009 he broke into the British Natural History museum in London to steal 299 rare bird skins. These include 37 of naturalist Alfred Russell Wallace’s ‘beloved ‘birds of paradise.
We learn about Walter Rothschild and the world’s largest collection of bird skins which he amassed. The book also examines the history of Alfred Russell Wallace (co-discoverer of evolution)
The author delves into the story of the break in. He took five years to investigate and write this story. He also meets an assortment of characters, “deep into the feather underground, a world of fanatical fly-tiers and plume peddlers, cokeheads and big game hunters, ex-detectives and shady dentists.” This is a totally bizarre yet real crime that took place and will keep you intrigued until its final pages
Rist’s capture proves to be no small feat. He made a fortune selling his stolen treasure online. By the end of the book we also learn the fate of the rest of the feathers.
This book is highly recommended by this reviewer and will appeal to fans of true crime, history, science and mystery lovers. The book reeled me in and kept me hooked until the last page.