My review of Stolen World: A Tale of Reptiles, Smugglers, and Skullduggery by Jennie Erin Smith is up at the Internet Review of Books. I loved this book. It’s full of larger-than-life personalities involved in under-the-table activities.
“With a cast of characters straight out of a Carl Hiaasen or Elmore Leonard novel, Jennie Erin Smith takes her readers on a wild ride into the world of reptile trafficking. And, yes, much of her new book, STOLEN WORLD: A TALE OF REPTILES, SMUGGLERS, AND SKULLDUGGERY, takes place in Florida, and it’s all true.” To read the rest of the review click here.
Apparently some other reviewers have hinted they don’t entirely believe in the veracity of the book. According to Smith, in a discussion on her facebook page, a few reviewers have suggested that she “embellished” it. They warn, at the very least, that her book be read with a skeptical eye because of her sources. To me, this is a bit like saying that Woodward and Bernstein’s Watergate stories should be questioned because of their sources. Perhaps those reviewers live in a world where they don’t bump up against the sorts of shady people in her book.
I happen to live in a place where cads and misanthropes far outnumber your regular citizenry. Maybe it’s because this Caribbean coastline is a tropical playground, maybe because cads and misanthropes always look for the easiest way to survive— make a living seems a bit of a stretch—think no central heating needed. Really, no house needed. Whatever the reason, they are here. So, I have no trouble believing her book is true.
I also note that Stolen World was published by Crown publishing. As she says in her rebuttal there were three sets of legal teams that went over the material, sometimes insisting on changes, or pseudonyms, because of legal issues. Surely the reviewers were aware of this. Or, as Smith put it: “… I do think they would have to be aware that any nonfic book would have serious legal vetting/review when the sources involved are 1. alive, 2. named, and 3. feisty as all hell.