Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers
A Woman of WWII Mystery, Book #2
By Tessa Arlen
Author Website: tessaarlen.com
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Daniele
Poppy Redfern is back on the case when two female fighter pilots take a fatal dive in an all-new Woman of World War II Mystery by Tessa Arlen.
It is the late autumn of 1942. Our indomitable heroine Poppy Redfern is thoroughly immersed in her new job as a scriptwriter at the London Crown Film Unit, which produces short films featuring British civilians who perform acts of valor and heroism in wartime. After weeks of typing copy and sharpening pencils, Poppy is thrilled to receive her first solo script project: a fifteen-minute film about the Air Transport Auxiliary, known as Attagirls, a group of female civilians who have been trained to pilot planes from factories to military airfields all over Britain.
Poppy could not be more excited to spend time with these amazing ladies, but she never expects to see one of the best pilots die in what is being labeled an accident. When another Attagirl meets a similar fate, Poppy and her American fighter-pilot boyfriend, Griff, believe foul play may be at work. They soon realize that a murderer with a desire for revenge is dead set on grounding the Attagirls for good. (Goodreads)
Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers, the second Woman of WWII mystery, is a well written, suspenseful yarn full of murder and wartime experiences. Everything about this book is related to the war, and it is a character driven puzzle worth figuring out.
It is autumn of 1942, and Poppy Redfern has left her village and position as air raid warden behind for London and a new job as a scriptwriter for the London Crown Film Unit. Her first assignment is to highlight six female civilian pilots responsible for ferrying any and every kind of aircraft to military airfields in need. When two of the pilots die in crashes, Poppy cannot help but believe that they were not both accidents and wonders if they are connected. With the help of her almost-boyfriend, American pilot Griff, the pair investigates to get to the truth.
I really like this Woman of World War II series and its characters. Poppy is clever, intelligent, and resourceful. Her job as a scriptwriter gives her an acceptable reason to investigate, and it does not feel forced or contrived when people open up to her. Griff is charming and likable with just the right amount of war related secrecy to be intriguing. I only wish there was not so much tip-toeing around their feelings. If Arlen’s goal is to create sexual tension, it is not coming across as such. I am a certified Pembroke Welsh Corgi fanatic so it is no surprise that I love Poppy’s canine sidekick Bess and appreciate how much she is featured in the story. Some of the other characters are a bit stereotypical but well executed. The Attagirl flyers are individual enough to provide lots of variety.
The story of these underrated women flyers is quite interesting, and I had not read much about them prior to reading this book. It feels quite timely to bring their stories, though fictional here, into focus. Arlan’s writing is descriptive without being too flowery and succeeds in setting a historically accurate tone without it being dry or too melodramatic. The backstories of each of the flyers are crucial to the story, and they all feel real to me, as does their camaraderie. It is difficult for me to feel sorry about the first victim Edwina’s death since I find her so unlikable and unsavory. However, readers do see another side of her with her neighbors’ reminiscence and gain some understanding of why she is the way she is. The second death is much harder to justify, and I felt the same shock and sadness as the flyers. There are several suspects for Poppy to interrogate and plenty of red herrings and clues for readers, and Poppy, to work through. The pace of the story is steady while providing enough suspense to propel the story along. I did not have it all figured out by the climactic reveal, and everything is satisfactorily and neatly tied up in the end.
Poppy Redfern and the Fatal Flyers is a rewarding read and can be read as part of the series or as a standalone mystery. I look forward to more of Poppy’s adventures, hopefully for a very long time to come. Recommended to all historical mystery fans.