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The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century

May 1, 2019,6:30 pm - 8:00 pm

A Rainy Day Books Author Event co-sponsored by the Kansas City Public Library and the Linda Hall Library.

The event will be held at the Kansas City Public Library-Plaza Branch at 4801 Main Street. 

The book

On a cool June evening in 2009, after performing a concert at London’s Royal Academy of Music, twenty-year-old American flautist Edwin Rist boarded a train for a suburban outpost of the British Museum of Natural History. Home to one of the largest ornithological collections in the world, the Tring museum was full of rare bird specimens whose gorgeous feathers were worth staggering amounts of money to the men who shared Edwin’s obsession: the Victorian art of salmon fly-tying. Once inside the museum, the champion fly-tier grabbed hundreds of bird skins–some collected 150 years earlier by a contemporary of Darwin’s, Alfred Russel Wallace, who’d risked everything to gather them–and escaped into the darkness. 

Two years later, Kirk Wallace Johnson was waist high in a river in northern New Mexico when his fly-fishing guide told him about the heist. Kirk was soon consumed by the strange case of the feather thief. What would possess a person to steal dead birds? Had Edwin paid the price for his crime? What became of the missing skins? In his search for answers, Johnson was catapulted into a years-long, worldwide investigation. The gripping story of a bizarre and shocking crime, and one man’s relentless pursuit of justice, The Feather Thief is also a fascinating exploration of obsession, and man’s destructive instinct to harvest the beauty of nature.

Kirk Wallace Johnson will be in conversation for his new softcover, The Feather Thief: Beauty, Obsession, and the Natural History Heist of the Century. A meet-and-greet book signing with Rainy Day Books will follow the presentation.


This event will be held at the Plaza Branch of the Kansas City Public Library, 4801 Main St., Kansas City, Missouri 64112.


This is a complimentary open house event, but registration is required. Register online or call the Kansas City Public Library at 816.701.3407. Seating is general admission.

Book Signing

Rainy Day Books will have copies of The Feather Thief for sale at this event, or you may click here to pre-order for in-store or at-event pick-up.


Linda Hall Library


Kansas City Public Library Plaza Branch
4801 Main St.
Kansas City, MO 64112
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For reservation questions, please email events@lindahall.org or call 816.926.8772 to leave a message.

Contact Eric Ward at 816.926.8753 for more information on these events.