Book Review: Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

Eagle & CraneAbout the Book

Two young stuntmen confront shocking truths and unlock long-held family secrets during the US internment of Japanese citizens in World War II.

Louis Thorn and Haruto “Harry” Yamada are the star attractions of a daredevil aerial stunt team that traverses Depression-era California: Eagle & Crane. The young men have a complicated relationship, due to the Thorn family’s belief that the Yamadas – Japanese immigrants – stole land belonging to them.   This tension is inflamed when Louis and Harry are both drawn to the same woman, Ava Brooks.

After the bombing of Pearl Harbour there are changes and harsh realities to face.  When one of the stunt planes crashes with two charred bodies inside, the authorities conclude that the victims were Harry and his father, Kenichi, escaped from a Japanese internment camp. However, as FBI Agent Bonner is sent to confirm the facts, his ensuing investigation struggles when the details don’t add up and no one seems willing to tell the truth.

Format: Hardcover (384 pp.)    Publisher: Allison & Busby
Published: 3rd July 2018     Genre: Historical Fiction

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My Review

I’ve had a copy of this book sitting in my TBR pile for a while, courtesy of the lovely people at Allison & Busby, and I’m now kicking myself that I didn’t get to it earlier because I thought it was absolutely terrific.

Starting with FBI Agent Bonner’s arrival at the home of the Yamada family in 1943, the book moves between his tenacious investigation and scenes from the turbulent events in the years running up to the plane crash.   The reader witnesses Ava’s childhood, the creation of the original Flying Circus by her stepfather, Earl Shaw, and the arrival of Louis Thorn and ‘Harry’ Haruto Yamada.   It’s a story that involves a longstanding family feud involving the Thorns and Yamadas, strained friendships, a love triangle, deceit, betrayal and ghosts of the past.

Harry’s and Louis’s relationship is  particularly complicated.  Harry has the skill and daring when it comes to performing the aerial stunts (emulating his hero Harry Houdini) but it’s Louis who has the imaginative ideas.  He also fits the ideal of an ‘all-American boy’ which Harry, with his Japanese heritage, does not.  Their competitive nature leads them to attempt more and more daring and potentially dangerous stunts.  As it turns out, that’s not the only source of competition between them.  Their success and the fame it generates brings a potentially life-changing opportunity but with conditions attached.  How they each respond to this will test their relationship possibly beyond breaking point.

There are some brilliant scenes depicting the thrill of their daredevil stunts and I particularly loved the section of the book that evoked the glamour of 1940s Hollywood.  I also loved the character of Ava, who’s survived a tough upbringing and itinerant lifestyle with the Flying Circus but is clever, practical and a brilliant organiser.  And how can you not feel drawn to a character for whom books are ‘treasures’.

However, the book also explores more serious themes such as identity and discrimination.  The latter comes particularly under the spotlight following the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbour.  The anti-Japanese sentiment that results and the government decision to intern Japanese living in the US has tragic consequences for the Yamada family, and for others as well.

There is a brilliant final revelation with clever references to earlier events and to clues that were there all along if only you’d had the wits to notice them.  Full disclosure: I didn’t.

I thought Eagle & Crane was a fantastic story, brilliantly told, that combines mystery, action and romance whilst exploring more serious themes and revealing a dark aspect of American history that was certainly new to this reader.  On finishing the book with a satisfied sigh, I immediately added the author’s two previous books – The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch – to my wishlist.

I received a review copy courtesy of publishers, Allison and Busby.  The book is now also available in paperback.

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In three words: Gripping, engrossing, mystery

Try something similar…The Secret Life of Mrs. London by Rebecca Rosenberg (read my review here)

suzanne rindellAbout the Author

Suzanne Rindell recently earned her PhD in English literature. Her first novel, The Other Typist, has been translated into 15 languages and optioned for film with Keira Knightley producing and starring.  Rindell has enjoyed subsequent success with Three-Martini Lunch.  Before she turned to writing, she worked at a New York literary agency and lived in a cheap apartment above a funeral home.  She now divides her time between California and New York. (Photo credit: Goodreads author page)

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8 thoughts on “Book Review: Eagle & Crane by Suzanne Rindell

  1. Great review, Cathy! I really enjoyed The Other Typist and have Three Martini Lunch waiting on my shelf. It sounds like I’ll have to add Eagle & Crane to my TBR as well.


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