Written by Elizabeth Wein
Review by Elizabeth Caulfield Felt

1937. Stella North has been chosen to represent Britain in Europe’s first youth air race. As the only female, she wants to do well for her gender and for her adopted country. Having been born in Russia before the Communist takeover and raised in England, Stella is “stateless” and travels with a Nansen passport. On the first leg of the race, Stella witnesses one airplane fly close to another, harassing the pilot until the harassed plane crashes into the sea. Not knowing whom to trust, Stella tells of the crash but doesn’t mention the murderous pilot. Hazards abound on each leg of the journey, and slowly, Stella learns whom she can trust, creating a small band of youth pilots hunting for a murderer.

This is an exciting, fast-paced story with many plot holes. Why do the young pilots tell nobody there is a murderer in their midst? The “reason” isn’t believable, nor is the character of Stella’s chaperone, a groundbreaking female pilot who seems to have no understanding of anything and who refuses to listen to Stella. When the murderer is finally discovered, and even the police know who it is, why is that person neither arrested nor watched? To be able to create the exciting havoc that ends the story, I guess. I liked the young characters, and Stella’s and another pilot’s struggle with identity and allegiance to country on the brink of WWII is interesting. The story’s setting is brilliantly brought to life, as are the details and excitement of early flight. However, my frustrations with aspects of the story make it difficult for me to wholeheartedly recommend. Young Adult.