The Lost Pilots: The Spectacular Rise and Scandalous Fall of Aviation’s Golden Couple

Corey Mead. Flatiron, $27.99 (304p) ISBN 978-1-250-10924-8

Mead (Angelic Music: The Story of Benjamin Franklin’s Glass Armonica) revisits a tragic and scandalous interwar romance in this vivid true crime narrative. The prologue, set in 1932 Miami, casts an ominous shadow over the story of William Lancaster, a British aviator, and Jessie Keith-Miller, his “longtime flying partner and lover, and one of the pioneering female aviators of the period.” Lancaster is introduced as a defendant in a murder trial, accused of fatally shooting Haden Clarke, Keith-Miller’s new paramour. Then Mead flashes back to 1927, when Lancaster and Keith-Miller, both in troubled marriages, first meet in London. After Lancaster mentions his plan to make history with an unprecedented solo flight from England to Australia in a light plane, Keith-Miller volunteers to arrange the necessary financing in exchange for joining him. Their successful venture makes them international celebrities, and they become lovers before growing apart in the wake of professional difficulties. Mead’s use of primary sources, including Lancaster’s diary and his lawyer’s private account of the trial, enables him to craft a age-turner that recreates a time when the people pushing the envelope of what early aircraft could do became heroes. [em]Agent: Andrew Wylie, Wylie Agency. (May) [/em]