Author Jessica Speart was among the first customers of the new Greiser’s in 2018. She was a Saturday morning bagel-and-cream-cheese regular and a guest at many of our outdoor community supper and music events.
We knew her as a whip smart, irreverent, straight talking, courageous, down-to-earth, and beautiful fiery red head. She fought cancer with fierce determination until her final moments at home in Easton in February 2022.
Jessica was a member of our Cupboard of Directors and her mug still sits on our cupboard. Proceeds from sales of all of the books by our late friend will be put onto her store credit account, now known as the Jessica Speart Readers & Writers Account.
Anyone may use the Jessica Speart Readers & Writers Account to purchase a cup of coffee or tea to drink while they sit and read or write at Greiser’s. This is the best way we can think of to pay tribute to Jessica, who always embraced an opportunity to support fellow writers.
Jessica, who is among the experts featured in the IMDb TV documentary series Bug Out, currently on Amazon Prime, was an investigative freelance journalist with a focus on wildlife law enforcement and endangered species. She authored the highly acclaimed narrative nonfiction book Winged Obsession: The Pursuit of the World’s Most Notorious Butterfly Smuggler, an Indie Next pick which has been featured on the CBS News Blog, CBS Weekend Roundup, National Geographic Weekend, the Huffington Post, the New York Post, and NPR.
Jessica delivered keynote speeches at a wide range of distinguished forums, including the American Museum of Natural History, John Jay College of Criminal Justice, chapters of the Audubon Society, League of Women Voters, and the American Association of University Women.
Winged Obsession, one of a dozen of her books available at Greiser’s, brings to light the story of Yoshi Kojima, a one-man environmental wrecking ball in the cutthroat world of butterfly smuggling. Few people realize that, as an endangered species, butterflies can be as valuable as gorillas, pandas, or rhinos. Butterfly smuggling is a $200 million business within the $10-$15 billion illegal wildlife trade. Kojima was its kingpin.
Case agent Ed Newcomer worked his way in with Kojima by posing as a young apprentice eager to learn the trade from a mentor, but blew the case twice due to Kojima’s keen sense of survival and overwhelming paranoia. Newcomer got a third chance to resurrect the case when he became the smuggler’s object of desire.
Kojima was ultimately undone in a tale of greed, obsession, and sexual temptation. Caught and sentenced to two years in California City prison, Kojima was deported from the U.S. upon his release in 2008.
Working undercover as she researched the book, Jessica describes in Winged Obsession how she befriended Kojima and then had to deal with the guilt resulting from her intention to betray him.
Jessica’s work includes articles investigating wildlife and drug-trafficking crimes for publications including The New York Times Magazine, OMNI, Travel & Leisure, Audubon, National Wildlife, Wildlife Conservation, Animals magazine, Mother Jones, Delta’s Sky magazine, and more.
She penned a 10-book mystery series featuring U.S. Fish and Wildlife Agent Rachel Porter. Prior to writing, Speart studied theater at Boston University College of Fine Arts and worked as an actress in New York City. She appeared off-Broadway, in commercials, and in soap operas. She lived in Easton, Connecticut until her death in early 2022.