A talented young man's obsession with fly tying leads him to break into a natural history museum and make off with hundreds of irreplaceable bird skins from the collection.
Kirk Wallace Johnson, the author of The Feather Thief, became obsessed, not with fly tying but with the story of the break in, the detective work that caught the thief, and the question of what happened to the many skins still unaccounted for after the young man's arrest.
As the story unfolds, Johnson paints a vivid picture of the Victorian era explorers and natural historians who built the collection, as well as the rare and beautiful birds collected.
He tells the heartbreaking tale of species hunted to near extinction for the sake of millinery -- until at last the practice was banned.
Of course, a ban doesn't prevent the existence of a black market and the author's investigations into the theft uncovered a thriving trade in illegal feathers -- all so tiers could use the same type of feathers used by tiers at the end of the 19th century.
The book is a fascinating glimpse into past times -- and an obsessive pastime.
HERE is a brief review from Kirkus.