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The Audubon Caper: Untold Story of the Theft of an American Treasure Paperback – March 22, 2012
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Top Customer Reviews
I enjoyed the way this book took me back to the 1970s and those tumultuous days of Watergate and the end of the Vietnam War. Perhaps this resonated even more with me because I’m a member of that generation, and remember the tremendous societal and cultural upheaval and explosion of sex, drugs and rock’n’roll.
After distinguished service in Vietnam as a Green Beret, Roy Murry is on his way to a conventional life and job as an accountant when he meets Francis “Forrest” van Zandt. What starts as a friendship ultimately puts Roy in the midst of a plot to steal more than 400 Audubon prints valued at $400,000 from the Audubon House in Key West, Florida. One of my favorite parts of the book is his compelling account of transporting the prints. He’s driving on a dark highway, belting down scotches, and having an intense debate with himself over the choices he’s made. Love this narrative: “Looking in the mirror I saw a young man ready for a change in his present life’s pattern. Educated yes, but not using his intelligence very well. In my new life, I would emphasize my peace of mind.”
This perspective is relevant beyond the scope of the story. We all find ourselves in situations we didn’t intend, when the path we’re on takes a jagged turn, and we’re faced with tough choices. What defines us is not how we got there, but how we go about setting things right. Bravo to Mr. Murry for a wonderful tale about the choices we make, consequences and redemption.
More specifically, Murry's book is about how and why he inadvertantly became a major player in the theft of Audubon's Bird's of America prints from Mr. Audubon's art gallery in Key West, Florida.
Murry relates his recollectons and experiences with a great deal of candor in this creative non-fiction tale. The Audubon Caper is a hair-raising, eye-opening story that you simply won't want to miss, particularly if you desire an inside glimpse into how one of our intelligence agencies conducts some of its covert operations.
I very much enjoyed the Audubon Caper and recommend it highly.
Carol Marrs Phipps, Author of Elf Killers and The heart of the Staff Series
The story keeps us on our toes, shifting from the present and going into the past, and around again. Murry tells us one of the reasons he gets involved in stealing the Audubon paintings is because of being loosened up by cocaine and scotch. His rich college buddy van Zandt ends up roping Murry into the theft by using the powers of friendship. In addition, Murry has vowed to van Zandt's father to keep an eye on him, keeping him out of prison. We see Murry getting in way over his head and that's before we learn about the big named mafia guys who are connected to van Zandt.
Much of the story takes place in Key West, where the theft and the trial take place. Murry's colorful description of Key West is well done, as are his noting of details of his characters, giving us a rundown of what they wear and drink. We get a really good historical sense of the significance of the Audubon paintings, something Murry does well. It's also fascinating how easily these artistic treasures are taken.
Dancing with the FBI is one of the best parts of the story. Murry explains his complex feelings about having already served his country in war and then having to serve his country to help catch the mob. The trial where Murry testifies about his involvement in the Audubon Caper is intense. We see his having to think about himself and his new wife he hopes to be reunited with at the end of the story. Murry has to outsmart van Zandt's lawyer and many other players in the legal debacle. We want to see him succeed and make it into the witness protection program as he is promised by the government. Murry builds effective suspense at the end of his tale and we get a satisfying conclusion--partly because we know he lives to write about it.