Kirk Wallace Johnson is widely published in US newspapers and has one previous book to his name, about his work as founder of The List Project, aiming to get Iraqis resettled in the US.
He’s fly-fishing in New Mexico when he first hears the name Edwin Rist. Here is The Feather Thief – a US classical musician and part of an obsessive community who make the flies that lure fish to the lines of such fishermen.
These often call for rare feathers, a factor that led Rist to break into a provincial British museum and stuff a suitcase with bird specimens before escaping by train.
It’s a fascinating case that grips Johnson and won’t let go. The book explains how Rist’s scheme unravels, landing him in court. He’s diagnosed with Asperger’s and does not see jail, but police have not found everything he took – where is it? Johnson determines find out and takes us with him on a quest across the world.
I knew nothing about birds or fishing flies, but that really doesn’t matter, because this is an engagingly written story about Rist’s crime, his motivations and the aftermath.
You’ll be drawn on, eager to know what happened next and as it begins to look like the author may actually meet the mysterious Edwin, you’ll be reading it when you should be doing other things.