Jake Reynolds may be on the front at the start of the First World War, but that’s no reason to let fighting and murder get in the way of being a master art thief.
Jake Reynolds has many talents; expert pilot, multilingual, fearless climber, crack shot, genius intellect – but his most lucrative skill is his ability to create flawless forgeries of the world’s most famous paintings, and he’s not going to let a little thing like a world war get in the way of his business.
Fighting with the newly formed British Royal Flying Corps, despite his status as a US citizen, Jake has more than stealing art on his mind. A German general is out for his blood, not to mention a killer on the loose in camp who plans to bring Jake down before he uncovers his identity. Oh, and there’s a war going on too.
Written in third person past tense, with a first person prologue that frames the narrative as being written by a journalist who has been told these tales by an older Jake Reynolds and then written the stories after his death, I was originally hesitant of this artiface, but I realized that it enabled the author to make comments about the progress of WWI beyond the time line of the narrative. Of course, claiming that these tales are true is also a fun device for drawing you into the story.
The historical facts about the time period and the emerging airplane technology are fascinating and worth reading the book for alone. With the horrors of the First World War, it is easy to forget it was also an exciting time of rapid innovation. The writing is also sensitive to the time period, and reminds me of the gung-ho adventures of Biggles.
I admit that I am very interested in WWI. I have a personal family connection and have read many books that detail the real stories of the dogs, horses, priests and Irishmen who fought and died and survived in the war to end all wars. Therefore I was perhaps predisposed to enjoy this book. And enjoy it I did. It’s a great action adventure mystery novel, set in a fascinating time period.
I award Death of a Young Lieutenant…
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