About the Book
Title: Wings in the Dark
Author: Michael Murphy
Genre: Historical / Cozy Mystery
Witty and stylish in the classic Dashiell Hammett tradition: in Michael Murphy’s latest high-flying Jake & Laura Mystery, their Hawaiian honeymoon is interrupted when their friend Amelia Earhart is accused of murder.
Hawaii, 1935. Mystery novelist Jake Donovan and actress Laura Wilson are in gorgeous sun-soaked Hawaii, but their best laid plans for canoodling on the beach are interrupted by a summons from famed aviatrix Amelia Earhart. It seems a local businessman has been gunned down next to her plane. In just days, the famous pilot intends to fly from Honolulu to Los Angeles, making aviation history over the Pacific. But now, without Jake and Laura’s help, Earhart’s flight might never take off. Trailing a killer, the newlyweds’ sleuthing leads to a jealous pilot, a cigar-chomping female officer of the “Royalist Militia” and a notoriously disagreeable lieutenant colonel named Patton. With a sinister killer lurking in the shadows, it’s safe to say the honeymoon is over . . . and the danger has just begun.
Historical mystery writer Michael Murphy, author of the Jake and Laura mystery series
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Tuesday, January 8, 1935
I might have turned down the invitation of a tour of Oahu by air, even though it had come from Amelia Earhart. I wasn’t crazy about airplanes and neither was Laura, but when she suggested the experience might help me write some future Blackie Doyle book, I had to agree.
Within minutes of takeoff, I’d forgotten about Blackie. Over the drone of the single engine, the wing above my head popped and cracked without provocation, probably rivets coming loose.
The only window on the side of the modified six-passenger plane was in a door several feet behind me, so we could see little except out the front of the cockpit. As we flew along the coast, the plane rose and dipped, allowing Amelia to point at some new island wonder out the front window. The flight had become a sixty-minute roller-coaster ride at Coney Island.
As we circled along the south coast, the plane banked. I braced my feet against the bottom of the plane and blinked as a shaft of midday sun shot through the cockpit window.
Seated beside me, Laura reached over and squeezed my hand. Laura appeared fascinated by the blue water and lush green of Hawaii, so different from Queens, where we both grew up. “Darling, isn’t the view fabulous?”
It wasn’t fear but anxiety. I’d faced fear in Europe during the Great War, on the streets of New York as a gumshoe, and in cities around the country as a Pinkerton. I’d taken a bullet in the leg two years ago. I could handle tough guys and rough situations, but an airplane was held up by air.
It helped little that in the pilot seat in front of me was the most famous woman in the world. Laura’s friend, who barely paid attention to the controls or the dozen or so gauges, pointed out Hawaiian landscapes with the knowledge and enthusiasm of a sightseeing-tour guide. “Oahu is the third largest island in Hawaii but holds more than half of the population and the largest city, Honolulu.”
The outside of the plane was a bright red, the inside was steel gray. Mechanics had removed all nonessential weight, except the two seats Laura and I occupied behind Amelia (and they would be taken out after the flight)—anything to lighten the plane’s weight in preparation for her historical flight across the Pacific to the West Coast in three days’ time.
Laura had been chatting with the friend she’d met in New York since Amelia greeted us outside the hangar and escorted us to the plane. “This is so nice of you, to take us up like this.”
“Consider it a belated wedding present.”
I would have preferred a toaster.
Amelia glanced over her shoulder at Laura. “I had to take her up for a shakedown flight anyway. We’ve had a number of mechanical problems since we arrived in Hawaii back in December.”
Laura reached over and patted my hand. “Relax, darling.”
“There.” Amelia pointed out the window. I couldn’t see until the plane dove and revealed a battleship the length of two football fields. “That’s the closest we’ll get to Pearl Harbor. The military doesn’t like civilians encroaching on their airspace.”
Good. As if flying wasn’t dangerous enough, we were one slipup from getting shot down.
“Beyond the white sand beach of Waikiki is Diamond Head.” The plane rose as Amelia pulled back on the yoke. “We’ll get a better view if we climb to four thousand.”
When the plane leveled off, Amelia nudged the yoke forward. “From the air you can see Diamond Head is actually a crater formed hundreds of thousands of years ago.”
The plane shuddered and shook. Amelia offered a reassuring smile. “Updrafts are common around mountains.”
For a moment the flight smoothed out and I released a breath.
A sharp bang came from the back of the plane. I tried not to show my apprehension. I had a tough-guy image to uphold. “What was that?”
Amelia chuckled. “Nothing.”
Nothing! I held on to the strap.
Amelia let go of the yoke. The plane was flying itself!
“We’re coming up on your hotel. Let’s take a closer look.”
I gripped the edge of the seat as the plane descended rapidly.
“Don’t get too close.”
Amelia chuckled. “Do you have a suite?”
Laura shook her head. “We have one of the original cabanas. It’s small, but it’s right on the ocean with a private cove.”
On the beach, people waved. We passed by our cabana and the beach we’d walked on nearly every day since our arrival after the New Year.
Laura checked her watch. “I hate to say this, but we need to be getting back.”
“Right, your interview.” Amelia pulled back on the yoke, and the plane began to climb. We headed toward Wheeler Field. I had never felt more relieved to have an upcoming meeting with a reporter.