Eagle and Crane: A Novel. Suzanne Rindell. Penguin Publishing Group. July 2018. 448 pp. ISBN#: 9780399184291.
Haruto (Harry) Yamada and Louis Thorn grew up side by side on California farmlands. At one time their lands had been joined and owned by the Thorn family. But to Louis’ father and brothers’ lifelong chagrin, the father had gambled too much in a drunken stupor one night and lost the most valuable west side of his property to the Yamada family. Not a good loser, he bore a grudge against the Yamadas that grew with the telling into fantastic hate and determination to get back at them for “tricking” the Thorn family out of their property.
When we meet Harry and Louis, they have spent years apart and are now barely on speaking terms, sad because they had been childhood companions and friends for a long time, until Louis heard enough of the conflict to turn him against the “Jap” Harry. Now they are to slowly become united as they are snagged into flying “barnstorming” and daredevil deed exhibitions planned by Earl, a con man who originally sold a “cure all tonic.” Ava and her mother Chloe work for Earl and Ava becomes a new source of contention between Harry and Louis. Later on, that romantic triangle becomes the focus of a mystery.
WWII arrives with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the flight business (which is vividly described quite enjoyably) collapses as all Japanese and Japanese-Americans are interned in camps for the duration of the war. The mystery begins when Harry and someone else in his family escape the camp and supposedly take up one of the bi-planes and crash it spectacularly with no seeming effort to save themselves. Murder? Suicide? It’s up to the local sheriff and FBI Agent Bonner to figure that one out!
The plot and character presentations are intriguing and keep a perfect pace and pitch for any reader to follow. Uncertainty is the prevalent motif of this romance/mystery novel so that the reader feels like he or she is the investigator and/or chronicler of this work of historical fiction. This is a unique perspective of the way WWII changed the lives and attitudes of Americans toward foreigners forever! Something to reflect on in these trying days of similar conflicts!