The Death of a Young Lieutenant
Beginning at the end and flashing back to where it all began, we learn about Jake Reynolds a Captain in the service and an art thief and forger who is a member of the newly formed British Flying Corps Squadron. The reporter that files this story relates the events as to him by Jake Reynolds at the time of the interview. Jake is now 80 years old and imagine knowing and meeting the Wright Brothers and having a vision like theirs to create your own plane. Take the journey back in time and join him as he hires into battles, has to risky his life to clear this young lieutenant and hopefully steal the painting he has in his sights a Jan van Eck from the 14 th century.
Jake must deal with a plane crash and the events that led up to the death of a sergeant and arrest of the lieutenant. Going behind enemy lines he’s creative and uses his ability to disguise himself . Pretending to be a German officer he’s able to locate the site of the crash with the help of an innocent soldier. His creativity and ingenuity are remarkable as he witnesses the crash site and the soldier relates what he heard and saw but the final analysis would mean using another type of tactic to bring the soldier to his Colonel to relate the events.
The time period is WWI and aviation were just beginning. Planes could barely get off the ground and fighting between planes with weapons was not that easy. Jake meets with Oglethorpe concerning the death of Sergeant Grimes and the events shared by the German soldier they have safely secured they hope. The motive for the death has not been revealed and why would someone kill him at point blank range? Was it to destroy Oglethorpe or his father? Was it revenge for the card game where this Sergeant seemed to always win?
Jake reviews these reasons while flying on another mission and has more than that on his mind before landing. How about a three paneled painting of the Madonna and Child sitting in a small church in Epernay waiting for Jake to steal it? His mode or method would be to dress up as a high-ranking German officer and walk into town and take the van Eck . This idea seemed attainable while waiting for his plane to go on the long trek across the night sky toward Reims. Checking out the field where his plane winds up and hoping to see a spy but there was none to be seen but in 3 days when he returns the average looking man would be alive and waiting for him.
Jake daydreamed why flying the mission and contemplated why he was even in this war. Reflecting on the constant fighting and forced retreats of the French and British armies that had everyone thinking they’d lose the war. The fighting spirit soared through Poilu and Tommies setting in their trench. Jake reviews what’s about to happen as he relates how Zeppelin dirigibles are bombing Belgium forts in the opening hours of the war. These zeppelins could carry bomb loads aeroplanes not yet. The complexion of war and how it’s fought is much different back then, but Jake reflects amidst it all about having to deal with the lieutenant and getting to the core of why he seems to be targeted as the killer . Then he’s reminded of the mission and wonders why or if he’s willing to risk his life and that of a British officer who was playing spy and his job was to find him. The author and Jake shares information about the mechanics of these older planes and believe it or not they have no brakes.
The unexpected happens and he and his British captain are faced with the enemy and told they were captured but what Jake does in a flash of his hand will shock readers and the unsuspecting German General and his soldiers as the author adds this twist to the multiple plot lines in this novel.
Just where he takes the German general and his goal is not surprising as Jake’s quarry is that 3 paneled painting of the Madonna and Child and whether the General liked it or not, they were not leaving without it.
The fighting continues and just before the lieutenant was about to impart information to help Jake the artillery and guns shot through and lives were lost, Jim was injured and Jake had another mission to complete but the assassin was close and the end result would put him in permanent alert. Two more murders and Jake need to find out more but the investigation into them is not the top priority of the higher ups. The painting in hand , art gallery in sight and then danger finds him, but will Jake outlive the war?
Suspicions rise as Jake with the help of his Colonel questions two men regarding their pasts and relationships with Oglethorpe and then finding himself in the clutches of the German General whose proposition will surprise you as blackmail and greed enter the picture.
The final reveal is quite startling as the evidence points to overcome man, but will Jake find a way to bring him down now that more lives were lost and a revelation and more made by the lieutenant.
Jake is clever, smart and Colonel Wingate respects his plans but one other officer would earn the wrath of Jake first as the conclusion leaves us wondering if Jake Reynolds now 80 years old in the present will be back again to share more stories about WWII in the past. The research about the time period is extensive and author B.R.Stateham brings the war to life as we learn more about air travel, bombing using planes and just how inventive these soldiers and their officers were to try and take down the enemy. But I bet there’s more to come. Strong well developed characters and a plot that draws you in from the start, an art thief and officer who can steal paintings and replace them with forgeries as this man relates his story to a reporter in the present letting readers know at the end that Jake Reynolds has to more say as he reflects on The Death if a Young Lieutenant.
Fran Lewis just reviews
Meet Captain Jake Reynolds – pilot, adventurer, art thief, spy.
In the opening weeks of World War One, and as a member of the newly formed British Royal Flying Corps, Captain Jake Reynolds is shipped off to Belgium.
Roped in by his squadron commander to prove the innocence of a young lieutenant accused of murder, Jake also wants to steal a 14th Century Jan van Eck painting.
The problem is both the evidence and the painting are behind enemy lines.
How do you prove a man’s innocence and steal a masterpiece while an entire German army is breathing down your neck?
B.R. Stateham is a fourteen-year-old boy trapped in a seventy-year-old body. But his enthusiasm and boyish delight in anything mysterious and/or unknown continue.
Writing novels, especially detectives, is just the avenue of escape which keeps the author’s mind sharp and inquisitive. He’s published a ton of short stories in online magazines like Crooked, Darkest Before the Dawn, Abandoned Towers, Pulp Metal Magazine, Suspense Magazine, Spinetingler Magazine, Near to The Knuckle, A Twist of Noir, Angie’s Diary, Power Burn Flash, and Eastern Standard Crime. He writes both detective/mysteries, as well as science-fiction and fantasy.
In 2008 the first book in the series featuring homicide detectives Turner Hahn and Frank Morales came out, called Murderous Passions.
Also, in 2008 he self-published a fantasy novel entitled, Roland of the High Crags: Evil Arises.
In 2009 he created a character named Smitty. So far twenty-eight short stories and two novellas have been written about this dark eyed, unusually complex hit man.
In 2012 Untreed Reads published book two of the Turner Hahn/Frank Morales series A Taste of Old Revenge.
In 2015 NumberThirteen Press published a Smitty novella entitled, A Killing Kiss.
In 2017 a British indie publisher, Endeavour Media, re-issued A Taste of Old Revenge, and soon followed by a second Turner Hahn/Frank Morales novel entitled, There Are No Innocents.
In 2018 Endeavour Media published a third novel of mine, the first in a 1st Century Roman detective series, entitled While the Emperor Slept.
Also, in 2018, Number Thirteen Press merged with another famous British indie, Fahrenheit Press. Soon afterwards, Fahrenheit Press re-issued an old novel of mine entitled, Death of a Young Lieutenant.
Now, after all this apparent success, you would think Fame and Fortune would have sailed into my harbor, making me the delight of the hard-core genre world. Ah but contraire, mon ami! Fame and Fortune are two devious little wraths who pick and chooses the poor souls they wish to bedevil. I remain in complete anonymity and am just as bereft of fortune as I have always been. And apparently will continue to be for a long time to come.
B.R. Stateham has a blog called, In the Dark Mind of B.R. Stateham – http://noirtaketurner-frank.blogspot.com/