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Animal Vegetable Criminal

When Nature Breaks the Law

Mary Roach


‘Delightful’ Ed Yong

What’s to be done about a drunken elephant? A monkey caught mugging passers-by? A trespassing squirrel?

Follow Mary Roach as she investigates laser scarecrows, robo-hawks, human-elephant conflict specialists and monkey impersonators. Travel to the bear-busy back alleys of Aspen, the gull-vandalized floral displays at the Vatican and leopard-terrorized hamlets in the Himalayas. In this fresh, funny and thoroughly researched book, dive into the weird and wonderful moments when humanity and wildlife bump up against one another.

  • Publication date: October 6, 2022
  • ISBN: 9780861543649
  • RRP: £9.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: October 14, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781786078346
  • RRP: £16.99
  • Pages: 320
  • Publication date: October 14, 2021
  • ISBN: 9781786078353
  • RRP: £6.99
  • Pages: 320


‘A provocative and engaging exploration of our evolving relationship with the rest of nature.’


‘Combining diligently researched scientific reporting with the sniggering wit of a stand-up comic… Animal Vegetable Criminal loves an eyebrow-raising anecdote.’

The Times
‘Bestseller Roach sheds light on nature’s malefactors in this often funny, always provocative survey…Roach’s writing is wry, full of heart, and loaded with intriguing facts… This eminently entertaining outing is another winner.’
Publishers Weekly, starred review

‘Reading a Mary Roach book is like spending a luxurious and joyful evening with the perfect dinner guest. Delightful facts become indelibly etched in your brain, and only later do you realise that hours have passed and your face slightly hurts from smiling too hard. In Animal Vegetable Criminal, Roach’s peerless storytelling skills are paired with a sense of moral urgency, as she recounts stories of humans and other animals, uneasily and clumsily learning to co-exist in a world that they must now share.’ 

Ed Yong, science journalist and author of I Contain Multitudes
‘Hilarious! With Animal Vegetable Criminal, Mary Roach again takes us into an unfamiliar scientific realm, in this case the science of managing the conflicts between humans and the natural world – lethal leopards, rampaging elephants, jet-downing birds, even killer trees. It’s an ever-widening conflict zone, but one that Ms. Roach gleefully mines for a multitude of bizarre facts that’ll make you snort coffee through your nose.’
Erik Larson, author of The Splendid and the Vile

‘An idiosyncratic tour with Roach as the wisecracking, ever-probing guide… My favorite moments, ultimately, weren’t the funny ones, but those that reveal a bit of scientific poetry.’

New York Times Book Review

‘With her characteristic dry wit, [Roach] brings an intense fascination to the seldom discussed details and the at times absurd miscellany in the unexplored corners of unappreciated research… It is impossible not to smirk, chortle and sometimes outright belly laugh as you read her many wry asides and funny but fascinating footnotes… But the real trick Roach pulls off is to keep you laughing while at the same time making sure the earnest points come across.’

New Scientist

‘A hugely enjoyable exploration of what happens when the nature we’ve decided to love doesn’t love us back. By turns hilarious and horrifying – and often profound – Roach’s entertaining journeys are full of delightful curios and I was swept up in her joyful writing.’

Gaia Vince, author of Transcendence

‘Each chapter is packed with the results of [Roach’s] detailed investigations. Roach uses footnotes to add both depth and lightness to the topic at hand by capturing misfit studies, asides, and hilarious tangents… Refreshing.’


‘The book brims with Roach’s irreverent humor, which particularly shines when she experiences human-animal conflict firsthand… A blend of modern science and history, with Roach’s flair for spotting hidden absurdities… As another entry in Roach’s canon of books, Animal Vegetable Criminal stands tall (and hairy), educating as much as it entertains.’

Science News

‘Full of kernels of fascinating information… Her approach is informative and unpretentious, and she’s always armed with a dry sense of humor. Roach will change the way you think about the great outdoors. What more could you ask for?’


‘[Animal Vegetable Criminal is] powerfully propelled by the force of Roach’s unflinching fascination with the weird, the gross and the downright improbable… There’s a wacky genius to [her] interjections… [Her] curious and generous engagement with her subjects makes for world-expanding reading.’

Washington Post

Mary Roach

Mary Roach is the New York Times-bestselling author of several popular science books including Packing for Mars and Gulp, which was shortlisted for the Royal Society Winton prize. Grunt was a finalist for the Los Angeles Times Science & Technology Book Prize. She has written for the GuardianWiredBBC FocusGQ and Vogue. Her most recent book is Animal, Vegetable, Criminal.

Author page

More books by Mary Roach

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