The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century by Kirk Wallace Johnson

In The Feather Thief, author Kirk Wallace Johnson weaves together several plotlines to make a remarkable whole. His anti-hero is Edwin Rist, a gifted young musician whose obsession with the antiquated Victorian art of fly-tying leads him to steal the most prized bird skins in the British Natural History Museum’s ornithology collection. This bold theft has a number of ramifications, not only for Rist, but also for the scientific community and Rist’s contacts in the close-knit, shadowy world of modern fly-tiers.  The author becomes part of the story as he works on recovering the bird skins that went missing after the heist.

Sure to appeal to readers interested in exotic birds, true crime, lost art forms and/or mental health, this well-written, well-researched book is gripping from beginning to end. Highly recommended.

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(Reviewed by Amy B.)