Author Kirk Wallace Johnson's "The Feather Thief"

May 1, 2018

In the Moment ... May 1, 2018 Show 327 Hour 1

Credit Lori Walsh

The centuries-old art of salmon fishing fly-tying has a dark side. It hearkens back to a time when Europeans were first setting eyes on the the exotic birds of the world They quickly became obsessed with possessing them, with using their feathers and skins for fashion and for art, and with making as much money off of the creatures as possible.

Fast forward to 2009, when hundreds of scientific specimens are stolen from a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. The thief ... a 20-year-old American flautist named Edwin Rist. He was also considered (at the time) to be the "future of fly-tying."

Author Kirk Wallace Johnson heard about the heist when he was waist-deep in a river, fly-fishing. The story of human obsession and incomplete justice launched him into an investigation of his own.

His new book is called "The Feather Thief."