I was asked to review a novel about the history of aviation, and I agreed because I spent a lot of my younger years in the Civil Air Patrol, and obsessed with planes… As you will see, I think I would only recommend this book if you are very interested in Av history, about which the author knows rather a lot, and not so much in a story that doesn’t tell, but shows. The story is secondary to the history, here, and the non-Av history is presented rather shakily.
I was enjoying this when I started reading, and it was enhanced by my beginning to read it while embarking on a flight that would land in Newark, the primary location of most of the story. While it doesn’t start at the very beginning of aviation, it covers the commercialization of airlines, mail deliveries, and the last hurrah of aviation racing in the days of biplanes. It also touches on many topics of the times, like prohibition, the Mafia, the Lindberghs, and the depression. Some of the historical events are presented in an oddly skewed fashion, but I didn’t see anything that stuck me as wildly incorrect. For a novel, I don’t ask objectivity about history!
The thing that kind of threw me out of the story was when the two main characters go to Brazil and have a supernatural encounter. I wasn’t expecting that. Also, the message became a bit heavy-handed here in the story and took over what I was reading it for – the history, and the planes. Don’t read this for the story telling, that is a bit flat, and the characters cardboard. But the telling of the progression of aviation was a good read, out of my usual fare these days, harking me back to my teen obsession with aerospace. I might pick up the second book, because it gets into WWII, this book having ended with the announcement of the bombing of Pearl Harbor.
And it is even better than the first one. I highly recommend it!