Goodreads blurb – “Louis Thorn and Haruto ‘Harry’ Yamada – the Eagle and the Crane – are the star attractions of a daredevil aerial stunt team that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family’s belief that the Yamadas – Japanese immigrants – stole land from the Thorn family. This tension is inflamed when Louis and Harry both drawn to the same woman, Ava. After the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor there are changes and harsh realities to face. And when one of the stunt planes crashes with two charred bodies inside, the ensuing investigation struggles when the details don’t add up and no one seems willing to tell the truth.”
This was a fabulous dual time historical fiction novel set in California before and during World War Two. I’ve read a quite a few books set in Europe during this era but nothing set in the US, so I was very keen to read this when I had an email from the publisher Allison & Busby. I didn’t realise that there was a large Japanese community in California in the early 20th century and didn’t know much at all about the treatment and internment of Japanese Americans following the attack on Pearl Harbour.
This book instantly transported me to California with it wonderful descriptions of the land and the people. I loved reading about Ava, she was a wonderful character who sadly had to grow up too quickly during the Great Depression when her father killed himself and her mother didn’t know how to cope. Ava is an incredibly resourceful child and learns a lot about people, especially when her mother is swept off her feet by Earl Shaw who ends up running a barnstorming act. This was fascinating reading as I didn’t really know much about the ins and outs of these early display shows.
The mystery of the plane crash in 1943 was slow and very atmospheric. I didn’t know who my loyalties should side with, the FBI or the local towns folk? It was a very good mystery that I didn’t manage to work out at all and it had a very satisfying ending.
I loved the author’s note at the end of the book, about who inspired her it write the story, it was fascinating and should definitely not be ignored.
I read this over the course of a few weeks and I’m really disappointed I didn’t have the time to sit down and just read it a couple of sittings like it deserves. I definitely recommend this to lovers of historical fiction.
Thanks to Ailsa at Allison & Busby for my lovely hardback copy.