When I saw Love Books Group Tours was looking for reviewers for Eyes Turned Skywards, I volunteered straightaway. But not for me. I asked Alan if he’d like to review it instead, as an ex-RAF officer with a keen interest in the history of World War Two. So this is what he thought!
Eyes Turned Skywards
Blurb: The novel reflects on the rumours and theories surrounding a number of real-life events. Namely, the death of the Duke of Kent and the aircraft crashes of Short Sunderland W4032 and Avro Anson DJ106 during WW2.
Wing Commander Robert Sutherland has left his days as a pre-war detective far behind him. Or so he thinks. On 25 August 1942 the Duke of Kent, brother of King George VI, is killed in northern Scotland in an unexplained air crash, when his plane veered off course. A second crash soon after suggests a shared, possibly sinister, cause. Bob Sutherland is tasked with visiting the aircraft’s base in Oban and the first crash site in Caithness to gather clues as to who might have had reason to sabotage one, or both, of the aircraft.
The novel is set against the background of a country that is far from united behind Winston Churchill, and the ever-present threat from the enemy. We follow Bob as he unravels layers of deceit and intrigue far beyond anything he expects.
Eyes Turned Skywards is available as an eBook and paperback from Amazon UK.
About the author: Ken Lussey spent his first 17 years following his family – his father was a Royal Air Force navigator – around the world. He went to Hull University in 1975, where he met his wife Maureen, hitch-hiked around Great Britain, and gained a degree in philosophy. Next he wrote A Hitch-Hiker’s Guide to Great Britain, published by Penguin Books in 1983.
An inexplicable regression into conformity saw him become a civil servant for the next couple of decades, during which time he moved to Scotland. Since then, he has helped Maureen establish the website Undiscovered Scotland as the ultimate online guide to Scotland. Eyes Turned Skywards is his first novel.
Before I get to the review, a word about the photos for this post. The aircraft is a model of a Hawker Hurricane (which Bob flew as a pilot) and the watch is an actual German Luftwaffe pilot’s watch. Just further establishing Alan’s credentials!
When we read the blurb, we both thought there were irresistible parallels with the Mull of Kintyre helicopter crash in 1994. The cream of RUC Special Branch and MI5 were killed. And this effectively stymied any peace deal with the IRA, and allowed the war in Northern Ireland to continue. The crash was initially blamed on pilot error in 1994 (and crew error in 1942). Only after 17 years were the Mull of Kintyre pilots’ names cleared. So was it sabotage in both cases? The files remain closed for now.
This is an intriguing tale woven against the background of the continual and ongoing enigma that surrounds Rudolf Hess’ flight to Scotland on 10 May 1941. The Glasgow Herald of 16 May 1941 reported that Hess, Hitler’s deputy, and the Duke of Hamilton met on the night of Hess’s arrival. Who knows why?
The mention of U461 in the novel is also interesting as this in part aligns another special operation U33. Although this vessel visited in 1940 and suggested the landing of German special forces before it was sunk in the outer Clyde. So the association with U Boat special operations and special forces units is, therefore, a good one.
Bob Sutherland is quite a likeable hero but I don’t feel he is necessarily a credible investigator. We learn nothing very much about his time as a police detective, for example, and what makes him the natural candidate for his role in the novel.
There are also some parallels with Jack Higgins’ The Eagle Has Landed, which was based around a “fictional” plot to kidnap Winston Churchill. Although that novel was written in the knowledge that German paratroops who did land in England were captured.
And I feel that the author may be trying to create a new British hero, similar to Philip Kerr’s Bernie Gunther, a German detective turned SD Officer. Perhaps Eyes Turned Skywards will be the first in a new series starring Bob Sutherland? If so, we might find out more about his backstory in future novels and have new form of British hero!
Lastly, the tourist guide to the North and West Coast of Scotland, which while detailed and interesting, did take the focus off the main well thought out plot from time to time.
Would Alan recommend it?
Yes, he would, with some reservations. He felt Bob’s character and backstory could do with being fleshed out considerably more than it has been so far. But Ken Lussey’s historical details regarding RAF aircraft, squadrons and operational deployments in Scotland are all accurate. And they’re presented in an engaging format for those who know their history as well as for those who don’t. His final comment is that it’s always interesting to get a different perspective on the Rudolf Hess enigma.
Many thanks to Ken Lussey and Love Books Group Tours for sending over a copy to review. And don’t forget to check out what my fellow Blog Tour reviewers thought of the book too – see below:
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