A young pilot finds a way to serve her country and secure her own freedom in McLaren (Song of Time, 1996, etc.) and debut author Garcia’s historical novel.
As the Allies in World War II begin to see the light at the end of the tunnel, the war in the sky takes center stage. Both German and Allied troops are racing to build a faster fighter jet that’s capable of clearing the way for their invading armies. In America, this results in Operation Archangel, a top-secret plan to corner the market on chromium—a metal needed to build supersonic jets—by any means necessary. Wallace Doyle, the son of the U.S. ambassador to Ireland, gets recruited by the Nazis to spy on the American operation. Meanwhile, Sprite Shannon, a young woman from rural Georgia, also gets caught up in the international game of espionage after her father’s death forces her to find a way to support herself with her piloting skills. She joins the Women’s Army Service Pilots, or W.A.S.P., and begins her training to become one of the first female military pilots in U.S. history. Along the way, she makes a mortal enemy of Doyle and unwittingly becomes involved in Operation Archangel—all while competing for status in her organization and falling in love with a shellshocked Air Force pilot. Although this book takes substantial liberties with World War II history, it weaves an exciting story around its central characters, whose lives constantly overlap in unexpected ways. Sprite is a likable protagonist who constantly beats the odds through determination and charm, and several other players are also well-drawn. The dialogue tends to be unfortunately on the nose, though, as in Sprite’s speech: “Seems like I’m different from the person I was even two weeks ago. I’ve always had responsibilities with keeping our house and helping Daddy in the business, and school, of course—but this feels so different. This is…what my father called my ‘destiny.’ ” However, it doesn’t usually slow the story down.
An imperfect flight of war-era fancy that still manages to stick the landing.