Craig Welch

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“With the sizzle of a mystery novelist, Welch portrays a complex, driven, and irresistible cast of real-life characters.”

                        - Booklist

Shell Games: Rogues, Smugglers, and the Hunt for Nature's Bounty

“We meet hit men with teddy bears and read about assassination attempts ... It’s intense stuff, and — as crazy as it sounds — it’s all real. 

                  - Pacific Northwest Inlander

“Forget CSI—this is the real deal, tracking down the greediest kinds of criminals as they plunder the planet’s future.”

                      - Bill McKibben

“A detective story you shouldn’t miss.”

                  - Tom Zoellner

photo: Meryl Schenker
Craig Welch

An “oddly riveting story of the black marketeers ... (and) the law-enforcement officials who go to extraordinary lengths to thwart them.”

                  - The Wall Street Journal

“Endlessly fascinating ... Welch is a superb reporter.”

                      - The Seattle Times

A “compelling debut ... the criminals are quirky rather than terrifying ... will appeal to readers who enjoyed Susan Orlean's The Orchid Thief.”

                 - Library Journal, starred review

“A surprising page-turner ... Welch's account of the law enforcement officials who hunt these hunters reads like a spy novel, but the vivid imagery is drawn from thorough reporting.”


“Required reading ... full of characters Raymond Chandler would have conjured ... the cops-and-robbers nature of the story makes you want to read the whole book in one gulp.”

                      - Outside

"‘Shell Games’ is an eye-opener, exposing a murky world operating just below the surface.”

                - (Portland) Oregonian

“A wonderland of undercover informants, crosses and double-crosses ... Welch does the homework to make this work stand out."

                   - Minneapolis Star Tribune

“Spare, exhilirating prose ... Welch sets up his true-crime tale with a prologue straight out of a paperback thriller.”

                    - Willamette Week

“A compelling tale that is at once ridiculous and tragic ... an engrossing tale of both human excesses and the attempts of a few brave souls to curb them. Everyone ... has a stake in this battle's outcome.”

                    - The Washington Post

“Editor’s choice ... Forget elephant tusks and alligator skins, globalization has created markets for items much more exotic ... Resembles a spy thriller, with shady fishermen and double agents.”

                          - Audubon

“Shell Games” on NPR’s Living on Earth:

“A cautionary tale of how the Internet, international shipping and greed can make wildlife trafficking easier and more profitable than ever.”

                - The (Charleston, S.C.) Post and Courier

“Replete with rich detail and some gripping and almost unbelievably compelling situations ... A work of nonfiction that at times could be mistaken for a novel ... A thoroughly enjoyable and evocative read. Author Craig Welch has hit the mark with this one.”

                  - International Game Warden magazine

“A fiercely reported and wholly captivating cops-and-robbers story about the black-market wildlife trade ... Front-line reporting from the war against nature.”

                    - Jonathan Miles

“An exciting tale about an international black market not known by a lot of people.”

                 - The Everett (Washington) Herald

“Makes for a surprisingly swashbuckling tale as a varied cast of heroes and villains tries to stay one step ahead of each other.”

                    - Conservation Magazine

“A compelling true-crime adventure …”

                   - San Diego Union Tribune

“Reads like a mix of Sam Spade and ‘Wild Kingdom.’ ”

                - NPR’s Living on Earth, host Jeff Young

“Written like a novel but backed by 25,000 pages of research, (Shell Games) exposes topside thieves along with commercial divers who raid the marine world of the very treasures we want to see.”

                    - Sport Diver magazine

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