Eagle & Crane

Eagle & Crane

by Suzanne Rindell

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Overview

Two young daredevil flyers confront ugly truths and family secrets during the U.S. internment of Japanese citizens during World War II, from the author of The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch.

Louis Thorn and Haruto "Harry" Yamada—Eagle and Crane—are the star attractions of Earl Shaw's Flying Circus, a daredevil (and not exactly legal) flying act that traverses Depression-era California. The young men have a complicated relationship, thanks to the Thorn family's belief that the Yamadas—Japanese immigrants—stole land that should have stayed in the Thorn family.

When Louis and Harry become aerial stuntmen, performing death-defying tricks high above audiences, they're both drawn to Shaw's smart and appealing stepdaughter, Ava Brooks. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and one of Shaw's planes mysteriously crashes and two charred bodies are discovered in it, authorities conclude that the victims were Harry and his father, Kenichi, who had escaped from a Japanese internment camp they had been sent to by the federal government. To the local sheriff, the situation is open and shut. But to the lone FBI agent assigned to the case, the details don't add up.

Thus begins an investigation into what really happened to cause the plane crash, who was in the plane when it fell from the sky, and why no one involved seems willing to tell the truth. By turns an absorbing mystery and a fascinating exploration of race, family and loyalty, Eagle and Crane is that rare novel that tells a gripping story as it explores a terrible era of American history.

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780399184314
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 07/03/2018
Sold by: Penguin Group
Format: NOOK Book
Pages: 448
Sales rank: 329,444
File size: 2 MB

About the Author

Suzanne Rindell is the author of two previous novels, The Other Typist and Three-Martini Lunch. She earned her Ph.D. in literature from Rice University, and divides her time between New York and California.

Read an Excerpt

1

Newcastle, California * September 16, 1943

They bump along the country road, rolling through golden hills that are punctuated with granite boulders and dotted with clusters of oak trees that appear blackish green from afar. Every so often the road dips through a marshy patch here, a thicket of wild blackberry bushes there. Broken branches and nibbled leaves; the signs of beaver and deer. Verdant meadows and white flashes of cabbageworm moths. As they near the orchard, clouds of sparrows and finches make nervous, disorganized dives at the soft yellow weeds around the plum trees, little groups of them assembling like constellations and abruptly breaking up again, each and every tiny nervous body keeping one eye turned to the sky for the shadowy shape of a hawk soaring high above.

When they reach the break in the low split-rail fence, the sheriff steers the car onto the property and along the dirt drive, through the many rows of trees, and toward the leaning peak of the largest foothill. The morning air is laced with the sharp, peppery scent of dry grass burning.

"Awful smoky out," Agent Bonner remarks, once the automobile comes to a stop.

"Rice fields," the deputy says as the three men step out of the sheriff's old Model A. "Somewhere down in the valley. It's after harvest, see. This is when they burn 'em. Smoke gets trapped up here, against the foothills. Kind of sets around a spell."

The sky is indeed filled with a thick haze, turning it the color of dull gunmetal; the sun is a flat white disc, small as a dime and lost in a sea of gray.

"It's routine farming business. The rice fields aren't Jap-owned," Deputy Henderson continues. "Or if they were, they aren't anymore."

He is young, the right age for a soldier, but there is an air of being excluded about him, and of lingering teenage angst. Probably flat-footed. Or poor eyesight, Bonner thinks. Those are the most common 4-Fs, when you can't tell by simply looking at a man. Henderson's hair is the color of tarnished brass; his face and neck are very pink, the flesh cratered, ropey and swollen with acne. Just to look at him, a man could feel the sting of what it must feel like to shave.

"Let's get this over with," Sheriff Whitcomb says. At least it is obvious why he isn't marching around in a uniform on the front: too old. He is thin, with haunted blue eyes. A pair of jowls and one tuft of white hair sprouting from an otherwise shiny dome. Bonner spied the tuft back at the station, before the sheriff reached for his hat and offered to drive the group out to the ranch. Every town seems to have a pair like this, Bonner thinks. Henderson and Whitcomb. One will eventually replace the other, and the cycle will begin again.

"You said Louis Thorn is living in the old farmhouse now?" the sheriff calls over his shoulder, speaking to Henderson. He is polite enough to Agent Bonner, but it is clear he prefers to pretend the agent is invisible.

"Yes." Deputy Henderson answers the sheriff in a quick, eager voice. "Old Man Yamada signed it over to him, before they lost legal rights. So Louis owns it fair and square."

"That's mighty interesting," Agent Bonner remarks. Bonner's certainly heard of cases where Japanese families had signed over their property to their white neighbors before being evacuated to the camps. In every single case, the Japanese were hoping to eventually have their land, homes, and cars returned to them, which implied a kind of special trust in one's neighbors.

"It ain't how you think. The whole town was mighty shocked the Yamadas did that," Henderson says. "The Thorns and the Yamadas had a long-standing dispute over this land."

"Why'd he sign it over to the Thorn family, then, if there was bad blood?" Bonner asks. He looks to Whitcomb, but Whitcomb shrugs and looks away, his gaze dilating with disinterest. Bonner can tell the sheriff finds explaining town gossip to an outsider tedious.

"Louis Thorn and Harry Yamada was friends-sort of," Whitcomb says, dispassionately. "Maybe Old Man Yamada put some stock in that. The old man didn't have any friends who weren't Japanese, himself. Maybe he figured it was worth a shot."

"Took a fat chance on that," Deputy Henderson grunts, reaching one hand up to rub at his pimply face. "I say Louis ain't givin' this land back. His father and grandfather always told him this land was Thorn property in the first place. They'd likely roll over in their graves if he was to think about giving it back."

"All right," Whitcomb says, pulling out his revolver, spinning the cylinder to ensure all six rounds are there, and putting it back in his holster. "Let's just see if he knows anything. Keep it civilized. Should be pretty straightforward. We're talking about a law-abiding citizen here; I don't have any reason to believe Louis Thorn'd lie to us."

They begin walking up the incline of the foothill toward the tidy white clapboard house nestled into the hillside just below the top. Louis Thorn might be living in it now, but Old Man Yamada had originally built it half a century ago-back when the latter was still a baby-faced young man, an early settler to the area. The house sits into the hill in a slightly cantilevered fashion, with a small wraparound porch from which a person can look out over the orchards below; neat rows of plum trees extend below one side of the house, a grove of satsumas in the middle, and almond trees on the other. The property consists of some fifty-odd acres, and as the three men climb the foothill now, they can see that the trees eventually peter out to reveal a wide, flat pasture some distance away. As they pause to look, three sets of eyes fall upon the far-off shape of a small, impromptu hangar down below, looking as though it had been thrown together hastily from available materials.

It is the place where the Yamadas kept their biplane, and where Louis Thorn purportedly still keeps it now. Or so Agent Bonner has been informed. The F.B.I. took special note of the biplane after the two remaining members of the Yamada clan-Kenichi and Haruto "Harry" Yamada-broke out of the Tule Lake Relocation Center, where they were being detained. The plane made the F.B.I. more nervous than usual, but either way the Yamadas were to be tracked down and returned to the segregation center, and as soon as possible.

The three men arrive in front of the house and climb up the twenty or so stairs that lead up to the porch. No need to knock; their boots make a good deal of noise on the wooden planks. The screen door swings open on creaking hinges before the third man reaches the top stair.

"May I help you fellas?"

The door claps shut. Louis Thorn, dressed in a long-sleeved undershirt and trousers, his suspenders hanging beside his hips, looks at the men standing on his porch, glancing searchingly from one to the next. One half of his face is dewy, clean-shaven. The other half is covered in lather. He is still clutching the straight razor in his left hand.

At the sight of the razor, Whitcomb lightly touches a hand to the butt of the gun on his own hip. "Mornin', Louis. The way I hear it, you got the run of things here these days," the sheriff says, taking the lead.

"That's right," Louis responds. There is a note of caution in his voice. He looks over the sheriff's shoulder, taking in the unfamiliar sight of Agent Bonner. For a brief instant Louis appears startled to see the F.B.I. agent, but quickly recovers himself.

"Looks like you settled into the place pretty good," the sheriff presses on.

Louis returns his gaze to the sheriff but doesn't reply.

"I take it you heard about them Yamada boys already."

"I heard," Louis says. His voice is low, steady.

"Then you know we're here to ask you if you seen 'em."

Louis blinks. "Harry and Mr. Yamada?"

"Yes."

"I reckon this is the last place they'd come."

"So you're telling me you ain't seen them?" the sheriff prods.

"No."

"And you wouldn't be inclined to help those Yamada boys if they came knocking?"

"I told you, I haven't seen them since."

"All right, all right," the sheriff relents. "You understand, we gotta ask, Louis. Agent Bonner here can't go about his business till them boys have been found."

"Mr. Thorn." Agent Bonner introduces himself, clearing his throat and extending his hand. Louis hesitates, then passes the straight razor to his other hand. The handshake is curt.

"Look here, Louis," the sheriff continues, "I don't know what you got goin' on in that head of yours. Maybe you got it in your head to protect these fellers, even if they're Japs. Or maybe," he says, lowering his voice, "you've gotten accustomed to being a property owner. Ain't no crime in that. Maybe if they came back here they wouldn't exactly be welcome. Like I said . . . I don't know what you got goin' on in that head of yours. But, to tell you the truth, I'm an old man, and I could give two shits."

Whitcomb pauses, certain that he has everyone's attention now.

"What I do know," the sheriff adds, "is that it would make all of our lives a hell of a lot easier if you let us take a look around the property and see if we can't prove you're telling us the truth."

Louis is silent a moment. "All right," he finally answers.

The sheriff nods. Louis moves as if to go back inside the house to finish his shave.

"The biplane," Agent Bonner says, reminding everyone.

"Oh," the sheriff says, turning back to Louis. "The agent here has to ask you some questions about that airplane being kept on the property . . ."

"Yes?"

"How'd that plane come into your possession?" Bonner begins.

Louis hesitates. "Bank auction," he says.

Bonner has read the file: he knows that Louis is skipping details, leaving out the part where Kenichi Yamada-not Louis-bought the plane at a bank auction, and only later signed it over to Louis.

"We used it for our flying circus act, but I don't do that stuff anymore. I work for the U.S. Army Air Corps as an instructor up at the Lincoln airfield. I train flyboys headed to the Pacific, mostly."

Bonner already knows this, too, but does not interrupt. It was always better to let people do their own telling.

"Do both Yamada men know how to fly the plane?" Bonner asks.

Louis shakes his head. "Only Harry." He pauses, then repeats Harry's full name as though to clarify. "Haruto Yamada."

"And before your instructor days, you and Haruto Yamada"-Agent Bonner flips open a notebook-"you charged spectators to watch you perform stunts in this plane? That's how the two of you became friendly?"

Louis shrugs. "Originally, we both worked for Earl Shaw and put on a barnstorming act for his flying circus. Later we had our own act . . . it was called Eagle & Crane."

"Eagle & Crane?"

"Uh-huh."

"Sounds mighty . . ." Agent Bonner pauses, looking into the air for the proper word. "Showy." Louis narrows his eyes just slightly at Bonner, but Bonner presses on. "What sort of tricks did you perform?"

"Oh, wing walking and barrel rolls and such," Louis replies. "With Earl's show, sometimes we flew two planes in formation, did loop-the-loops. Later it was more choreographed stunts. Parachute jumps, that type of thing."

Bonner nods. He scribbles a note.

"Say . . ." Louis asks, his eyes narrowing again. "Why so many questions about our business with the plane?"

"Well," Bonner says, clearing his throat, "it goes without saying that the Bureau feels an escaped evacuee who knows how to fly an airplane might be a liability."

Louis doesn't comment. Bonner knows he's obligated to ask the questions the F.B.I. expects him to ask, so he presses on.

"Do you have any reason to believe Mr. Yamada might attempt to gain access to your biplane?"

Louis pauses, considering. He shakes his head.

"If Haruto Yamada was able to gain access to the biplane, do you have any reason to believe he might use his flying skills to commit an act of war?"

"An act of war?" Louis repeats. "You mean hurt folks with the plane somehow?"

"Yeah," Deputy Henderson suddenly chimes in. "I'll be damned if Pearl Harbor ain't taught us all about how vicious those Japs can be-can't put anything past a-one of 'em!"

Louis's head snaps irritably in Deputy Henderson's direction. His hand holding the straight razor twitches.

"No," Louis answers, returning his attention to Agent Bonner. "I don't think Harry would do anything along those lines. It's not . . . it's not Harry."

"You sound defensive on Harry's behalf," Bonner remarks.

"I'm not defensive." Louis stiffens. "I'm just not going to say something is one way when I know it's another. Harry ain't about to steal the Stearman and crash it."

As if by the most absurd cue, their ears suddenly prick to the sound of an airplane engine droning in the distance. Louis knows from the sound of it that the plane is flying at an unusually high altitude, the steady whine of the engine humming like a dying mosquito.

All four men-Louis included-hurry to the railing at the edge of the porch and look up. Sure enough, there in the sky is the familiar silhouette of the Stearman. The group stares at the plane, powerless and immobile as they watch it inch across the sky, all of them mute as they listen to it drone along.

But then they hear an even more alarming noise. The engine sputters and coughs, and for one long, horrendous second shudders loudly, until finally it goes silent. It is a sequence of sounds Louis has never heard the airplane make before, a noise ever so slightly different from the stalling noise it makes if you pull up too hard . . . and yet, the second he hears it, Louis recognizes the sound with a sick feeling in his gut: It is the engine running out of gas.

What happens next is baffling. The biplane falls from the sky, a flying thing no longer, like Icarus and his melted wings. No one pulls up on the nose or raises the wing flaps. Instead it drops like a stone, or-even swifter-like a bird diving on purpose. But a bird can recover from such a dive. A small biplane cannot-that is, not without an expert pilot intent on maneuvering the contraption for all it was worth.

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Eagle & Crane 4.6 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 5 reviews.
Fredreeca2001 More than 1 year ago
Louis and Harry are friends but yet enemies. To say their relationship is complicated is an understatement. Harry and Louis attend a flying circus. Harry decides he wants to WALK THE WING of the plane. Well! Louis is not to be outdone. They both do it and do it splendidly! They decide to join this flying circus and be stuntmen. This is just the beginning of their tale. Harry is Japanese at a time in our country’s history when it is not too popular to be Japanese. His family is ridiculed and eventually placed in an internment camp due to Executive Order 9066. He and his father escape and this puts the FBI on their trail. Then they are both killed in a plane crash…so what happened? This is just one of the great storylines in this read. The camps, the flying circus, the mystery of the plane crash kept me glued to this book. I read it in two days! The author did a fabulous job with the historical research. And there is a lot of history in this read and it ties the whole story together. How the flying circus survived, how awful the camps were, how terrible it was to be Japanese are just a few fascinating facts floating throughout this tale. The story is a little long and has a large amount of description. But, it is unique in many ways. With the flying circus, WWII, Japanese Camps and the mystery, I was hooked.
literarymuseVC More than 1 year ago
Haruto (Harry) Yamada and Louis Thorn grew up side by side on California farmlands. At one time their lands had been joined and owned by the Thorn family. But to Louis’ father and brothers’ lifelong chagrin, the father had gambled too much in a drunken stupor one night and lost the most valuable west side of his property to the Yamada family. Not a good loser, he bore a grudge against the Yamadas that grew with the telling into fantastic hate and determination to get back at them for “tricking” the Thorn family out of their property. When we meet Harry and Louis, they have spent years apart and are now barely on speaking terms, sad because they had been childhood companions and friends for a long time, until Louis heard enough of the conflict to turn him against the “Jap” Harry. Now they are to slowly become united as they are snagged into flying “barnstorming” and daredevil deed exhibitions planned by Earl, a con man who originally sold a “cure all tonic.” Ava and her mother Chloe work for Earl and Ava becomes a new source of contention between Harry and Louis. Later on, that romantic triangle becomes the focus of a mystery. WWII arrives with the bombing of Pearl Harbor, and the flight business (which is vividly described quite enjoyably) collapses as all Japanese and Japanese-Americans are interned in camps for the duration of the war. The mystery begins when Harry and someone else in his family escape the camp and supposedly take up one of the bi-planes and crash it spectacularly with no seeming effort to save themselves. Murder? Suicide? It’s up to the local sheriff and FBI Agent Bonner to figure that one out! The plot and character presentations are intriguing and keep a perfect pace and pitch for any reader to follow. Uncertainty is the prevalent motif of this romance/mystery novel so that the reader feels like he or she is the investigator and/or chronicler of this work of historical fiction. This is a unique perspective of the way WWII changed the lives and attitudes of Americans toward foreigners forever! Something to reflect on in these trying days of similar conflicts!
Kdabra4 More than 1 year ago
I love this author and this book was a fantastic read. I'll read anything she writes after The Other Typist, which had me bewitched but also bewildered. Eagle and Crane fortunately skips the bewilderment and goes straight to endearment and heartbreak. Two boys, one a Japanese American, the other white, grow up on the same section of farmland in pre - World War II California. Their common age and venue make friends out of them despite their families' histories. Eventually they join a flying circus together and spend some time away from home learning to be stunt men and pilots. Their friendship hits some bumps but nothing like when the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor and the war and internment camps are in their backyard. Oh, and there is also a young woman involved. To avoid spoilers I'll simply say that the ending has some nice twists, one you might see coming or not, which is always a good thing. The characters and the story, adventures and history galore, will stay with me for a long time to come. Many thanks to NetGalley and the publisher.
Katie__B More than 1 year ago
There are many WW2 historical fiction books out there but yet most of them do not explore the subject of Japanese internment camps. So I am thankful the author and publisher decided to make that a focus of the novel. Louis Thorn and Haruto "Harry" Yamada, aka Eagle and Crane, are part of a daredevil aviation act in the 1930s and 40s. Ava Brooks is the stepdaughter of the owner of the Flying Circus and both young men find her appealing. But everything changes after the Pearl Harbor attack. While authorities conclude Harry and his father, Kenichi, died in a plane crash after escaping from an internment camp, a lone FBI agent thinks this isn't an open and shut case. This is a story about family, loyalty, and an ugly part of American history. I've always been fascinated with this period of aviation where airplanes were becoming a more common thing but yet there was still a bit of wonder and excitement. I definitely enjoyed the Flying Circus bits of the story and the complicated relationship the men had with one another and with Ava. I thought the backstory of each family really set the stage for what was to come later on in the story. My only complaint about the book is at times I thought the author fell into the trap of telling how bad internment camps were rather than just letting the story unfold naturally. It felt like I was hearing the voice of the author rather than the characters, if that makes any sense. Overall, this was a good read that held my interest throughout. Definitely recommend if you enjoy WW2 historical fiction. Thank you to First to Read for the advance digital copy! I was under no obligation to post a review and all views expressed are my honest opinion.
teachlz More than 1 year ago
My Review of "Eagle & Crane" by Suzanne Rindell Kudos to Suzanne Rindell Author of "Eagle & Crane" for writing such an inspiring, intense, captivating, intense, emotional and intriguing novel. The Genres for this novel are Historical Fiction and Fiction. The timeline for this novel is around the Great Depression and the Bombing of Pearl Harbor, and World War Two. The location of the story is in California. The author describes her characters as complicated, complex, and torn by both events and family expectations. Louis Thorne and " Harry Yamada" were friends for a short time when they were little boys. Harry loved magic, and Louis loved comic book heroes.  The Thorne family believed that the "Yamada" family had stolen their land, and from that become a great hatred. Louis meets a young girl, Ava, who is selling tickets for a flying show. Louis comes back with money and reunites with Harry. Somehow the two young men become aerial stuntman doing life-threatening and dangerous acts. The two work together as a team. Despite set backs and major problems, the two become known as "Eagle" and "Crane", nick names assigned to them with a racial intonation. When the tragedy  of the  Pearl Harbor bombing occurs, the United State government puts all of the Japanese people in internment camps.  Many are Japanese Americans, both citizens and American born. This is a terrible time that is not always revealed  in history books. The homes, land, possessions were supposed to be temporarily taken away from these people. There was inadequate medical care, cramped quarters, and poor living conditions. I appreciate the research and the resources the author used to provide the information. It is both thought-provoking and very emotionally charged. . Do we learn from history? Somehow, both Harry and his father escape the camps, but there is an airplane found with two charred bodies. The local government finds it an open and close case. One FBI agent with a personal agenda suspects foul play, and starts to investigate.  Will the deep secrets between the two families be revealed?  I highly recommend this amazing novel to readers that appreciate Historical Fiction.