Who is Edwin Rist?
Genius or Narcissist? Mastermind or Pawn?
One summer evening in 2009, twenty-year-old musical prodigy Edwin Rist broke into the British Museum of Natural History. Hours later, he slipped away with a suitcase full of rare bird specimens collected over the centuries from across the world, all featuring a dazzling array of priceless feathers.
Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist-deep in a river in New Mexico when he first heard about the heist, from his fly-fishing guide. When he discovered that the thief evaded prison, and that half the birds were never recovered, Johnson embarked upon a years-long worldwide investigation which led him deep into the fiercely secretive underground community obsessed with the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. A page-turning 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.
What a fascinating book this was! The fact that somebody had the audacity to even consider breaking into the British Natural History Museum and let alone do it, was intriguing enough for me to request this on NetGalley.
The author tells an absorbing tale of how he first heard about the incident, and then how he follows the trail to find out how and why the thief did what he did.
As well as the story about the theft, the historical research into the feather industry was absolutely fascinating. I loved reading about the trends of feathers in the fashion industry, starting with Marie Antoinette and continuing until the Victorian times when people began to discover that birds were becoming extinct for the sake of fashion.
The obsession the salmon fly-tying community has with acquiring feathers is quite something as well and unless I’d read this I really wouldn’t believe it.
If you’re looking for a true crime story but without murder and gore, then this is definitely the book for you.
Thanks so much to NetGalley and Random House UK, Cornerstone for my digital ARC.