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The Falcon Thief : A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird
by Joshua Hammer




Overview -
A rollicking true-crime adventure about a rogue who trades in rare birds and their eggs--and the wildlife detective determined to stop him.

On May 3, 2010, an Irish national named Jeffrey Lendrum was apprehended at Britain's Birmingham International Airport with a suspicious parcel strapped to his stomach. Inside were fourteen rare peregrine falcon eggs snatched from a remote cliffside in Wales.

So begins a tale almost too bizarre to believe, following the parallel lives of a globe-trotting smuggler who spent two decades capturing endangered raptors worth millions of dollars as race champions--and Detective Andy McWilliam of the United Kingdom's National Wildlife Crime Unit, who's hell bent on protecting the world's birds of prey.

The Falcon Thief whisks readers from the volcanoes of Patagonia to Zimbabwe's Matobo National Park, and from the frigid tundra near the Arctic Circle to luxurious aviaries in the deserts of Dubai, all in pursuit of a man who is reckless, arrogant, and gripped by a destructive compulsion to make the most beautiful creatures in nature his own. It's a story that's part true-crime narrative, part epic adventure--and wholly unputdownable until the very last page.

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More About The Falcon Thief by Joshua Hammer

 
 
 

Overview

A rollicking true-crime adventure about a rogue who trades in rare birds and their eggs--and the wildlife detective determined to stop him.

On May 3, 2010, an Irish national named Jeffrey Lendrum was apprehended at Britain's Birmingham International Airport with a suspicious parcel strapped to his stomach. Inside were fourteen rare peregrine falcon eggs snatched from a remote cliffside in Wales.

So begins a tale almost too bizarre to believe, following the parallel lives of a globe-trotting smuggler who spent two decades capturing endangered raptors worth millions of dollars as race champions--and Detective Andy McWilliam of the United Kingdom's National Wildlife Crime Unit, who's hell bent on protecting the world's birds of prey.

The Falcon Thief whisks readers from the volcanoes of Patagonia to Zimbabwe's Matobo National Park, and from the frigid tundra near the Arctic Circle to luxurious aviaries in the deserts of Dubai, all in pursuit of a man who is reckless, arrogant, and gripped by a destructive compulsion to make the most beautiful creatures in nature his own. It's a story that's part true-crime narrative, part epic adventure--and wholly unputdownable until the very last page.

 

Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781501191886
  • ISBN-10: 1501191888
  • Publisher: Simon & Schuster
  • Publish Date: February 2020
  • Page Count: 336
  • Dimensions: 8.5 x 5.4 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 0.9 pounds


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BookPage Reviews

The Falcon Thief

Typically, the phrase “true crime” brings to mind stories of serial murderers—not of, say, thieves and traffickers of rare eggs. But in The Falcon Thief: A True Tale of Adventure, Treachery, and the Hunt for the Perfect Bird, Joshua Hammer (The Bad-Ass Librarians of Timbuktu) has crafted a story that will fascinate readers craving a dramatic true tale of confident criminals, denizens of shadowy underworlds and the law enforcers who strive to catch and punish them.

First, the bad guy. Jeffrey Lendrum is an audacious criminal who travels the world stealing rare eggs from birds of prey and selling them to uber-wealthy falcon enthusiasts in the United Arab Emirates. Our hero, Andy McWilliam, is a career police officer who rose to the top of the U.K.’s National Wildlife Crime Unit, thanks to his success tracking and capturing wildlife-related criminals such as badger-baiters, zookeepers and real estate developers. But his specialization, of course, is ornithological crime solving.

Hammer’s exploration of the factors that culminated in egg trafficking is thorough and fascinating, offering context and entertainment alike. He plumbs the origins of falconry, which began as a means of survival (peregrines were trained hunters) and over the centuries evolved into the high-dollar, high-stakes sport it is today. In Dubai, there’s a falcon hospital, research center and the President Cup, a racing event with an $11 million purse. It’s mind-boggling, but in Hammer’s hands it makes a bizarre kind of sense: Rather than collecting jerseys and memorizing stats, falcon-obsessed men (they’re all men, it seems) steal and collect eggs, keep meticulous notes and are always planning their next get. The wealthiest members of this group in the UAE hire out such tasks to men like Lendrum who thrive on the adrenaline rush of plundering nature.

Hammer paints a vivid portrait of the thrill of the chase and the long-term relationship between criminal and police officer—both of them smart and daring, neither of them willing to give up. The Falcon Thief also shines a light on the world of wildlife crime: its perpetrators, addicted to their pursuits; its wealthy and Machiavellian masterminds; and our heroes, who work toward ensuring that all creatures are safe from the greedy and devious few. Ultimately, this book is a fine tribute to McWilliam and to others dedicated to conservation, and a compelling deep dive into the psyche of a very specific sort of criminal.

 

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