The Lizard King

The True Crimes and Passions of the World's Greatest Reptile Smugglers
Narrated by: Tony Ward
Length: 7 hrs and 1 min
4.5 out of 5 stars (75 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

Imagine The Sopranos, with snakes! The Lizard King is a fascinating account of a father and son family business suspected of smuggling reptiles, and the federal agent who tried to take them down.

When Bryan Christy began to investigate the world of reptile smuggling, he had no idea what he would be in for. In the course of his research, he was bitten between the eyes by a blood python, chased by a mother alligator, and sprayed by a bird-eating tarantula.

But perhaps more dangerous was coming face to face with Michael J. Van Nostrand, owner of Strictly Reptiles, a thriving family business in Hollywood, Florida. Van Nostrand imports as many as 300,000 iguanas each year (over half the total of America's most popular imported reptile), as well as hundreds of thousands of snakes, lizards, frogs, spiders, and scorpions.

Van Nostrand was suspected of being a reptile smuggler by Special Agent Chip Bepler of the U.S. Fish and Wildlife Service, who devoted years of his life in an obsessive quest to expose The Lizard King's cold-blooded crimes. How this cat-and-mouse game ended is engrossing and surprising.

©2008 Bryan Christy (P)2009 Recorded Books, LLC

What listeners say about The Lizard King

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  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    4 out of 5 stars
  • Story
    4 out of 5 stars

Snakes on a plane!!!

Ever wonder what might be in all the suitcases that glide past you on the luggage carousel at the airport? After listening to this captivating expose' of pet suppliers and their quasi-cartel smuggling operations, I will make sure to keep my distance from that weird lady with the oddly squirming carry-on the next time I have to fly. The story flips between the perspective of the good guys and the bad guys - although at times you wonder which is which - so you end up learning a little about about how to be a great smuggler/criminal and a little about how to catch them. Entertaining and informative - an easy 4 star rating for this great listen.

3 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Amazing book, narrator did it justice.

Reptiles are a fascinating topic. The smuggling side of it is a Tony Montana like thrill ride. This book should be in your library.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars

Very very Interesting. Will listen again.

Very very Interesting. Worth listening to a 2nd and possibly 3rd time to catch the things I missed the first time. I do plan to also get the print version. Listened during driving time with the whole family. We all love reptiles, own several and this book lead to many discussions on the value of reptiles and what it means to be a true reptile lover over someone only after profit. It also lead to discussions on the various types of reptiles there and those that job longer exist in the wild. A wonderfully written book.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    2 out of 5 stars

Buying a snake purse will make you think twice!!!

Where does The Lizard King rank among all the audiobooks you’ve listened to so far?

Top RATE!!!

Has The Lizard King turned you off from other books in this genre?

Certainly has!!!

Which scene was your favorite?

I could not put book down.

Was there a moment in the book that particularly moved you?

After all the training the FBI receives, it finally captures the Reptile King!!!

Any additional comments?

Great Book!!!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

best exotic animal book on audible

I listen to this book at least once a year since I've bought it. buy it.

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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Reptiles and humanity

I am a reptile breeder and to learn that the biggest names in the business have a darker past is fascinating. absolutely loves this book

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    1 out of 5 stars
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    1 out of 5 stars

Boring. Hour after Hour of names of Reptiles

What disappointed you about The Lizard King?

These "adventures" of a Retile Smuggler and the under-sourced, under-manned US Agents who try to apprehend smugglers could have been told in 15 min.
So to give the book some substance, the Author fills the gaps with endless names of reptiles and repeats ad-nauseum that there is a lot of reptile enthusiasts who spend a lot of money for retiles.

Has The Lizard King turned you off from other books in this genre?

Yes. This book basically talks about one smuggler and one agent. Totally boring.

If you could play editor, what scene or scenes would you have cut from The Lizard King?

The information in this book could be drastically edited to the point of maybe, making an interesting piece in "Outdoors" or "National Geo". But as a book, it is ridiculously redundant.

Any additional comments?

Unless you enjoy hearing the names of reptiles, move on to a different book.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    5 out of 5 stars
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    5 out of 5 stars

Here lizard, lizard, lizard...

An amazing tale of drugs, reptiles, smuggling, bad guys, and good guys. What else could you ask for. Awesome book.

  • Overall
    4 out of 5 stars

Informative and entertaining

This is a book about international smuggeling, and federal criminal investigation, more than about reptiles.
The characters are very real and intriguing. The author obviously did extensive research into the lives and smuggeling operations of reptile dealers of the 1970s through 1990s.
I'll never look at a pet store, or a zoo, the same way again.
At times the narrator seemed overly dramatic, especially in the beginning when the book introduces the world of smuggeling and its main players.
Overall, a very good book and recording. I'm happy I bought it.

1 person found this helpful

  • Overall
    out of 5 stars

If you love reptiles......

You NEED to listen to this book!

1 person found this helpful