Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty
Morrow, Apr 6 2010, $25.99
From the start with the poacher “Hunt” on Puget Sound led by Detectives Volz and Jarmon, fact is stranger than fiction as Craig Welch affirms with these entertaining yet also horrifying true crimes at sea collection. The entries occur in the Pacific Northwest and run the gamut of what poachers will do for profit. Although the prime focus is the Washington State fisheries, bears are killed to harvest their gallbladders as medical remedies and several others similar animal slaughters are highlighted also. Perhaps the biggest shocker is the tale of charismatic Native American artist Doug Tobin, who the Washington Department of Fish and Wildlife hired as an informant to enable them to catch geoduck poachers; he turns out to be a double agent as he is one of the prime poachers.
This well written true crime compilation will fascinate and shock readers as dedicated law enforcement officials try to prevent poaching on the Washington State waters. No question that Craig Welch provides much of the entries from the perspective of the cops working the seaways who he admires as his empathies are with these hard working game wardens who face danger. However, he also makes the “Crab Men” and “Clam Kings”, etc. come across as dedicated capitalists as to the professional poachers this is a business.