cover image The Shadow of Wings

The Shadow of Wings

Rudolf Steiner, June Knox-Mawer. George Weidenfeld & Nicholson, $26 (321pp) ISBN 978-0-297-81567-9

Add to the recent spate of Amelia Earhart books (I Was Amelia Earhart; Hidden Latitudes) this well-written, highly suspenseful commercial novel, which puts yet another spin on what might have happened to America's flying ace after she disappeared somewhere over the South Pacific during her 1939 round-the-world flight. British author and noted BBC broadcaster Knox-Mawer has ingeniously interwoven fact and fiction in a riveting plot that nicely balances mystery, exotic South Sea adventure and romance. Spunky protagonist Laura Harrington is a BBC reporter on assignment to cover Fiji's upcoming independence in 1969. This gives her the chance to trace the trail left by her parents, from whom she was separated when she was four during the Japanese invasion of the Gilbert Islands. Laura's quest takes her to remote and desolate atolls of ""darkest Micronesia, the islands that time forgot,"" where she must come to grips with an excruciatingly painful past in which her life and Earheart's intersect in an astonishing revelation. Knox-Mawer's deft characterization includes three native Fijian servants who bravely defy the malevolent, ruthless British District Officer--the villain of the piece. In July 1937, Officer Harrington (his relationship to Laura is gradually made clear) finds a white woman washed ashore on an isolated atoll, and begins a demented plot to conceal her identity. The extent of his perversity is spine-chilling, especially as Knox-Mawer brilliantly juxtaposes him to the supposed enemy, Japanese Colonel Tanizaki, a man of culture and compassion. (Oct.)