Non-Fiction Review: Jessica Speart’s “Winged Obsession”

I heard about this book at the Denver Publishing Institute two summers ago, and have been waiting to get my hands on it. For all you fans of Castle, CSI, Miss Marple or any other form of crime-fighting/undercover-work stories, this one’s for you. Best part? It’s TRUE.

With its light blue cover emblazoned with a giant iridescent butterfly, one would not immediately associate this book with a gripping tale of intrigue, international smuggling, and crime rings. In fact, had I not read the first chapter for a DPI project, I probably would not have picked it up on my own. This is a key part of Marketing: to visually attract your target audience. This being my largest quibble with the book however, I think it says something about the strength of the story inside.

The story is about a rookie Fish and Wildlife undercover officer who gets assigned to take down the biggest butterfly smuggler in the world.

Yes, the Fish and Wildlife arm of the government have undercover agents (who knew?!?!)….and yes, butterfly smuggling is a huge  black market industry, rivalling most forms of drug trafficking in size and revenue.

The premise of the book is a little quirky, I’ll admit, but the author does a great job of enveloping you in the story, explaining things and developing the characters in such a way that you WANT to care about them, you get caught up in the web everyone is trying to weave around each other – from the smuggler who thinks he has a new patsy he can use as a fall guy, to the undercover agent who is trying to build his case and bring down the network.

The things the agent has to go through to finally get his man begin to border on the …weird. This book should come with a PG-13 rating, as some of the conversations at the end of the book are definitely not kid-rated. Since this is non-fiction, I have to tread lightly, as it actually happened, but I also think the reader kind of gets the point after a handful of the undercover conversations, and then the text begins to feel like filler to elevate the word-count.

Other than that, however, the story is written well, and keeps the reader engaged. I finished it in one sitting! I have a few people in mind I would definitely recommend this too, and a few I would definitely NOT. So take your chances folks, check this one out and tell me what you think!

~S.o.P.

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