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The High Flyer
Ben Norton / Aviation Mystery #1
Elizabeth Darrell

Severn House
1 January 2016/ ISBN 9780727885739
Mystery / Historical / 1930s

Reviewed by Rachel A Hyde


It is 1930 and the Lance family, major shareholders in the Marshfield Aviation Company, are proudly watching their brand new fighter plane being put through its test flight. Suddenly the plane tumbles out of the sky and bursts into flames, killing the pilot and destroying the company’s new hope. The pilot, Chris Peterson, was married to the Lance’s daughter Julia, but the widow does not seem overly sad. Cue Ben Norton, former colleague of the dead man and back in Britain after many years abroad. Ben wants to discover why the accident happened, or was it something more sinister? And why has nobody ever heard of Ben before if he was Chris’s best friend?

This book is subtitled ”A Ben Norton Mystery", so it is presumably the first in a new series of aviation mysteries. There are not a lot of these, so the chance to read about the aviation industry between the wars was a change from more usual themes. The author has a military background and put this to good use here, giving the story a ring of authenticity. This is not a subject I know anything about, but it is easy to get swept up in the plot as the Lances and their team strive to get their new plane off the ground (pardon the pun). Ben has a mysterious background and is hiding a secret, but there are even more secrets to uncover if he is going to discover the identity of a murderer and saboteur. Ms. Darrell also paints a lively picture of rural Britain in the early 30s recovering from the war, which casts long shadows for everybody. All this comes together to make for an interesting and thought-provoking read, and if this is the first in a series I will want to read more. An intelligent mystery with plenty to recommend it.

Reviewed 2016