SHORTLISTED FOR THE GOLD DAGGER AWARD
'A tale of obsession ... vivid and arresting' The Times
One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the Natural History Museum at Tring, home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world. Once inside, Rist grabbed as many rare bird specimens as he was able to carry before escaping into the darkness.
Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide first told him about the heist. But what would possess a person to steal dead birds? And had Rist paid for his crime? In search of answers, Johnson embarked upon a worldwide investigation, leading him into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying.
Was Edwin Rist a genius or narcissist? Mastermind or pawn?
The Feather Thief truly is a tale of obsession . . . A wonderfully assured writer, [Johnson] takes us on a curious journey into the past . . . Vivid and arresting.
A fascinating investigation of a seriously ridiculous crime
Within pages I was hooked. This is a weird and wonderful book . . . Johnson is a master of pacing and suspense . . . it’s a tribute to Johnson’s storytelling gifts that when I turned the last page I felt bereft.
The Feather Thief is a riveting read. It also stands, I believe, as a reminder of how an obsession with the ornaments of nature — be they feathers, bird eggs or ivory — can wreak havoc on our scientific heritage
Weird and wonderful
If the stylish show has left you with a taste for more charming thieves and their perfectly-planned heists, here are the books to turn to next.
The story of a bizarre and shocking crime, The Feather Thief shines a light on our fraught relationship with the natural world’s most beautiful and valuable wonders, and one man’s relentless quest for justice. Read on for the prologue.