Book Review: ‘Eagle & Crane: A Novel’ Is A Great Look At A Flying Circus And The Events Of WW II

Harry Yamada and his dad Kenichi have escaped from a Japanese internment camp in California after being rounded up after the bombing of Pearl Harbor when Japanese people were being accused of working against the United States. Before they left they signed over their land and an airplane to neighbor Louis Thorn. FBI agent Bonner shows up looking for them. Louis says he doesn’t know where they are. When a plane suddenly takes off and crashes two bodies are found and are those of Harry and Kenichi. He soon meets young Ava Brooks who is living on the land that Louis owns. This should end the case but Bonner feels more is going on and stays around to investigate.

Via flashbacks we learn the stories of Harry, Louis and Ava and how they grew up, got involved in family feuds and all came together with a flying circus. Ava’s father killed himself right as the 1929 stock market crashed. It left Ava and her mother on their own struggling to make ends meet. When Earl Shaw enters their lives things change. He’s peddling a medicine at circus claiming to cure your illnesses. Soon Ava and Cleo (her mother) join up with him and they get married. Earl decides owning planes and doing stunts would make them more money. He buys two of them hires pilots and they are off and running doing air shows (illegally of course). They are making good money. When Harry and Louis come one day to see it Harry wants to join and do crazy stunts and convinces Louis to join him. Early loves it and they are off and hitting major cities making money. They are known as Eagle & Crane. Harry, Louis and Ava become fast friends and a love triangle develops between the three of them. Things go downhill after a while as Earl is busted for the show being illegal and takes off with all their money.

Harry’s father decides to help out and they get one of the planes back and become legal and make a new, successful show. Then then Pearl Harbor is bombed and everything changes.

Back to the present Agent Bonner is still investigating what happened to Harry and Kenichi and feels like he is being lied to by everyone. The more he digs the closer he gets to the truth and is shocked at what he finds out. Not only is he more personally involved than he thought, he figures out the shocking truth.

Author Suzanne Rindell has written a spell-binding story staring with the 1929 stock market crash, the depression, the rise of the traveling circus and crazy airshows. This was my favorite part of the story when it focused on how they did their tricks and what it was like to put on these shows. Also the shocking way we treated American citizens who were legal in this country is also brought into the spotlight. I wasn’t aware that this ever happened after Pearl Harbor. The story goes back and forth in time and leaves out no details on what happened then and wraps up with a shocking reveal to end the story.

You can pick up Eagle & Crane: A Novel in stores on Tuesday, July 3 from G.P. Putnam’s Sons.

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