May 11, 2016 by kitmoss
At an aerodrome in 1916 France, flying ace Bat mourns for his lost lover, Owl, whose airplane crashed during a dogfight. When a scoundrel threatens blackmail, he hauls off and slugs him, and the man hits his head in falling and dies. Bat is puzzled when Cowboy, an American flyer, offers to cover up the death. It is not long before Bat discovers that Cowboy has a little blackmail of his own, forcing Bat into a sexual relationship that is unlike his rather chaste love affair with Owl. When the French gendarmerie comes to investigate a body that was thrown, naked, from an airplane, Bat is sure he’s been discovered.
This is Josh Lanyon, so you know the novel will be well written, well organized, and well paced. What makes this novel unique is that it doesn’t fall into empty pathos. It also is not HEA (happily ever after)… The awareness that life for Royal Flying Corps pilots is likely to be short keeps the otherwise positive love story from getting sappy. That’s no spoiler, as you shall see.
The novel is also about assumptions people make about each other. Although public school Bat adores reading Westerns, he treats Cowboy like dirt because he thinks he is uneducated and unsophisticated and decidedly not British.
Lanyon does his usual excellent job of developing characters, the shattered Bat and the strangely earnest Cowboy, and also let’s out the line of the motives and reasoning of these characters gradually. You will be both entertained and made thoughtful.