Friday, May 17, 2024

Crows Are Black Everywhere

 Crows Are Black Everywhere (1945) by Herbert O. Yardley & Carl Grabo

Peggy Cameron is the spoiled daughter of an influential newspaper publisher. But she is determined to be a good reporter and flies to Chungking China to get the real story of the Sino-Japanese battles of the early years of World War II. The U.S. hasn't entered the war yet and is actually more pro-Japan--still sending materials and doing business with the country that would soon send war planes to Pearl Harbor. The officials all want to shuttle her through official Embassy channels, but Peggy knows they won't show her what it's really like on the ground in China. On the way in, she makes friends with Ted, the pilot, who promises to get her in contact with the Americans in China who are trying assist the Chinese efforts to repel the Japanese who will in turn help her interview Chinese citizens. 

Although she says she wants to report the facts, she does come with a certain bias and she'll have to learn to overcome it if she's going to do her job properly. It isn't long before she's in the thick of things--just when there are rumors of Chinese traitors and even Americans helping the Japan bombers find their targets in the blackout. She meets Bill and Henry, Americans helping to train the Chinese fighters, and Tina, Olga, Mei-Ing are women of various backgrounds (mixed, Russian, Chinese) who are also assisting the cause. There are others whose loyalties are uncertain. When Henry intercepts coded messages originating from their location and directed at the Japanese, the hunt is on for the traitor(s), but can they find them before a devastating attack?

Herbert Yardley was a code breaker in World War I. He also served as a personal adviser to Generalissimo Chiang Kai-shek and later as an adviser to the Canadian government. So, he knows his onions when it comes to codes and situation in China. Carl Brabo was a professor of English at the University of Chicago. The story is a pretty standard war-time spy thriller novel. But it was definitely interesting to see a World War II novel from the American point of view, but set before America officially entered the war. And so many of the war-time thrillers I've read have been set in the European theater, so it was also interesting to have one set in Asia. Pretty good characterization and good background on a part of the war I didn't know. ★★

First line: For three hours the plane had been flying over the Rice Bowl of southern China on its way to Chungking.

"Indiana is in America," Ho replied loftily as to one unenlightened. "It is a city famous for its swear words. So Number Three told me."

Last lines: "No," Bill said. "I don't think you'll forget. And none of us will forget either. I won't forget, Peggy."

Deaths =  7 (three shot; one natural; three bombed)

No comments: