Beatrix Williams won’t disappoint her fans with this latest book when it hits the shelves in June of 2020. She has all her trademark elements – strong women, mystery, plot twists, historical time frames, and in her own words “sexual power”.
“Sexual power is something I deal with in every single book because it’s so fascinating and essential to the process of becoming an adult and the power negotiation between men and women.”
Her Last Flight captures the spitfire spirit of the early aviatrixes like Amelia Earhart, Ruth Nichols and Louise Thadon. Although there are strong inferences to Amelia Earhart, this is not a fictional accounting of her life. References to lead character, Irene Foster’s interest in surfing is likely modeled after surfers like Isabel Lethan.
Bardenas Reales, Spain. January 1947.
War correspondent, Janey Everett, stands alone in the desolate whipping desert sands next to the remains of a Spanish military aircraft. A clue has led her here. She has been on the search for the whereabouts of a daredevil stunt pilot, Sam Mallory, who disappeared in 1937. Inside the cockpit, she finds human remains and Sam Mallory’s personal journal. The discovery of Sam’s journal is invaluable for the completion of her current literary project; a Sam Mallory biography.
Reading the dusty journal, Everett is startled to find a clue about Sam Mallory’s most famous aviation student, Irene Foster, who also disappeared in flight. Foster and Mallory, in 1928, were the most famous aviators with a history of flying together on long distance rallies. By 1937, Irene Foster was flying solo. On a flight circumnavigating the globe, she failed to arrive at a planned stop to meet up with her husband, George Morrow. Extensive searches concluded she was lost at sea. Yet, Sam’s last journal entry from 1937 was a scrawled message – GM to rescue at last thank God She will live. Could Irene Foster have left her husband and traveled to Spain to be with Sam? Was she with Sam when his plane crashed? Is she alive?
Janey Everett, hungry for first-hand knowledge about Sam Mallory, employs all her investigative skills to unearth clues to Irene’s whereabouts. Skills that include employing her supersized libido to seduce information from Sam and Irene’s closest past associates. Irene, indeed, survived and has living the past ten years as a recluse in a small Hawaiian ocean-side town.
Hanalei, Hawai’i October 1947
The day comes that the two women meet face to face. The lionesses circle each other cautiously. Each has carefully guarded secrets. They meet, alone, at the ocean where Irene has been surfing. They parry. Janey plays her trump card – Sam’s journal. Stone-faced, Irene tells her, “Come with me.”
We know that Janey is successful in discovering Irene’s secrets but we are dealt them out like bits of a Hershey bar – bite by bite. Irene’s story, told from her perspective, appears in excerpts from Janey’s book, the Aviatrix. that begins with a timeline of 1928.
Alternate chapters are written present day that begins in 1947 as the two women leave the beach together.
The two story lines have just the right tension and plot twists to keep the reader guessing the ending. The astute reader might spot clues; but not everything is as it first seems. What I liked in particular was the historical coverage of the early aviation. The bravery of those early aviators barnstorming in planes that were as safe as running a soapbox car in a NASCAR race. And who can not love Sandy, Sam’s cat who travels through the book showering love and contentment to soften the often highly charged scenes.
Nice read during these turbulent times.
Thank you, LibraryThing.com Early Readers for selecting me to read an ARC of the book.