Saturday, April 14, 2012

Just Jennifer

Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler by Jessica Speart (William Morrow, April 2012)

Butterflies have fascinated and delighted human beings for centuries. Whether in the garden, in the butterfly house of a museum or garden, or as a collection of unique specimens, each colorful wing and their ability to fly for hundreds of miles year after year continues to fascinate, and even become an obsession for many; unknown to many is the fact that a black market exists for the rarest, most sought after of butterflies that rivals the black market for items and animals, such as elephant ivory, that we think of when we think of animals and black market trading. One such man, Kojima, had eluded authorities for many years. U.S. Fish and Wildlife agents had attempted to apprehend him for many years and when Jessica Speart attempted to become close with Kojima in hopes he would reveal his secrets for her book, he turned the tables on her, unwittingly making her a co-conspirator in his operation.

In Winged Obsession, Jessica Speart uncovers the multi-million dollar a year business of butterfly smuggling, neatly juxtaposing the cut-throat nature of the black market with the delicacy and fragility of these lovely insects. Speart works with Wildlife Agent Ed Newcomer to track Kojima down and they find him slipping out of their reach, as hard to capture as these ephemeral creatures, become part of his web without realizing what is happening. Readers who enjoy stories of nature adventures, such as the adventures of orchid hunters, will enjoy this book which reads much like a well-written work of thriller fiction.

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