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Shell Games


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About the Author

Craig Welch is the environmental writer for the Seattle Times, a fellow at Harvard University's Nieman Foundation for Journalism, and a two-time winner of the Society of Environmental Journalists' top prize for beat reporting.


In this compelling debut, award-winning journalist Welch offers an insider's view of the illegal international trade in protected wildlife. At the heart of the story is the geoduck, a huge and obscene-looking burrowing clam native to the Pacific Northwest. Prized as a culinary delicacy, particularly in Asian markets, geoducks have been victims of illegal poaching for over a century. But in the 1990s, a single enigmatic poacher and his smuggling ring stripped Puget Sound of thousands of pounds and millions of dollars worth of geoducks. Welch draws upon hundreds of interviews with police detectives, divers, smugglers, and federal agents-as well as a nuanced understanding of Washington's cultural and natural history-to weave a fascinating tale of this legendary poaching episode and the resulting environmental disaster. VERDICT Although this work fits squarely in the true-crime category, the criminals are quirky rather than terrifying and the pacing is measured rather than breathless, making it an appropriate choice for readers who prefer less intensity in true-crime narratives. Like Mark Griffiths's The Lotus Quest (reviewed above), this will also appeal to readers who enjoyed Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief. [Ebook edition: ISBN 978-0-06-198798-4.]-Kelsy Peterson, Prairie Village, KS Copyright 2010 Reed Business Information.

"[A]n engrossing tale of both human excesses and the attempts of a few brave souls' to curb them. Everyone, not just the denizens of Puget Sound, has a stake in this battle's outcome."--Washington Post

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