Pin It
Favorite

'Shell Games,' Craig Welch 

Puget Sound, 3 am: Law enforcement does surveillance on smugglers. And the contraband? Clams.

click to enlarge art14949.jpg

Craig Welch wants to show us what evil lurks in the hearts of men. More precisely brawny, tough sea-farin’ men — ha-harrgh! — who harbor an insatiable lust for… for…
Clams?

In a debut book on an unlikely topic, Welch takes us on suspense-filled nighttime voyages around — and under — the waters of Puget Sound, where modern seafood pirates plunge into the murky depths to pillage one of the world’s largest clams, the geoduck.

It’s pronounced “gooey-duck,” and it’s a somewhat embarrassing giant with a siphon that dangles like a rubbery two-foot phallus when pulled out of the mud.

Welch is chief environmental writer for the Seattle Times. (He previously worked for the Spokesman-Review.) But it was a brief crime story about five guys busted for dealing in $3 million worth of geoducks that alerted him to the existence of clam rustlers. At first amused, then intrigued, Welch began a long journey of reporting on the shady world of wildlife smuggling.

The heart of the book involves geoducks being yanked nightly out of Puget Sound by greedy hustlers feeding a burgeoning market in Asia, but Welch takes us on side trips into other international shadiness, too, from traffic in bear gall bladders to baby leopard sharks.

Only the thinnest line of enforcement is arrayed against the growing and seemingly insatiable trade in wild things. Welch introduces us to state wildlife agents Ed Volz and Kevin Harrington, among others, as they recruit informants and scramble up and down steep bluffs around the Sound at 3 in the morning, staking out poachers. 

Diver and fisherman Doug Tobin, a larger-than-life member of the Squaxin Island Tribe, enters the scene as a snitch. Or is he playing both sides?

Tension and danger mount as all parties seem to have too many secrets to keep under their lids. Investigations teeter on the edge of flying apart.

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

  • Pin It

Speaking of Books

Latest in Arts & Culture

  • In the Line of Fire
  • In the Line of Fire

    The Spokane Firefighters Memorial Project reminds us of those who died in their duty to protect
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • Through His Eyes
  • Through His Eyes

    Dean Davis' show at the MAC is a survey of the region's artistic talents
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • For Your Consideration
  • For Your Consideration

    Creepy games, financial podcast pick and an important book
    • Dec 17, 2014
  • More »

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

Today | Fri | Sat | Sun | Mon | Tue | Wed
Color in Motion: Louise Kodis & Gay Waldman

Color in Motion: Louise Kodis & Gay Waldman @ Chase Gallery

Through Dec. 31

All of today's events | Staff Picks

More by Kevin Taylor

Most Commented On

  • Captain Planet

    Recycle Man is making the world a little better for people and mascots alike, one bottle at a time
    • Dec 10, 2014
  • Neighborhood Feel

    The Backyard brings a cozy bar to West Central
    • Nov 25, 2014
  • More »

Top Tags in
Culture & Food

Culture


last word


Digest


Food


for your consideration


© 2014 Inlander
Website powered by Foundation