Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #1)

  • KittyHawkAuthor: Iain Reading
  • Published: December 2012 by CreateSpace
  • Independent Publishing Platform
  • Category: Young Adult/
  • Mystery/Adventure
  • four-stars

After leaving her home in the western Canadian fishing village of Tofino to spend the summer in Alaska studying humpback whales Kitty finds herself caught up in an unforgettable adventure involving stolen gold, devious criminals, ghostly shipwrecks, and bone-chilling curses. Kitty’s adventure begins with the lingering mystery of a sunken ship called the Clara Nevada and as the plot continues to unfold this spirited story will have armchair explorers and amateur detectives alike anxiously following every twist and turn as they are swept along through the history of the Klondike Gold Rush to a suspenseful final climatic chase across the rugged terrain of Canada’s Yukon, the harsh land made famous in the stories and poems of such writers as Jack London, Robert Service and Pierre Berton. It is a riveting tale that brings to glorious life the landscape and history of Alaska’s inside passage and Canada’s Yukon, as Kitty is caught up in an epic mystery set against the backdrop of the scenery of the Klondike Gold Rush.

I received a copy of the book in return for an honest review

This is the first instalment in the Kitty Hawk young adult series and centres around Kitty, a very independent and exceptional teenage pilot with her own seaplane, a De Havilland Beaver. She definitely has ‘a nose for mystery and intrigue and a knack for getting herself into all kinds of precarious situations.’
The prologue seems to be introducing the subsequent books as the story doesn’t refer back to the fact that Kitty is in serious trouble.

“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. “This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over.”
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I’d had, the friends I’d made, the beauty I’d experienced, the differences and similarities I’d discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.

So this story chronicles Kitty’s adventures leading up to her taking the decision to fly round the world. And what adventures she has! From her experiences and research studying Humpback whales (which was fascinating) to being kidnapped and hunting down stolen gold.

Kitty’s first stop on her whale journey is her best friend Skeena’s house in Juneau. Skeena is a member of the Tla-o-qui-aht First Nation tribe and her grandfather, Joseph, is a tribe elder. I liked his philosophy a lot…

“Sky, water, land,” he said, holding his palm flat out, high, low, middle as he spoke.” Wherever we are in this world we are not alone. We are not the only creatures who find life in the sky and water and land. We are not the only creatures who need it.And we cannot just take and take and take. We have to give. And we have to respect.”

I enjoyed very much reading about the detailed history of the Klondike, the Yukon and the gold rush era. The narrative is entertaining and descriptive, giving a good mental image of places and scenery. Jack London’s White Fang is a favourite of mine so it was interesting to learn more of his life too.

The illustrations were a nice touch and gave a sense of where Kitty actually was.

The passages relating to the hike up the mountain, the Chilkoot Trail and the ruins of the old settlement were very expressive and revealed such a lot about the hardships of the day.

I wasn’t too sure about the capture/bonding thing going on at first but it smoothed out as the story progressed. The only little niggle I have is the ‘conversations’ Kitty has with herself. Personally, I’d prefer just thoughts.

That said the mixture of action, adventure, information and history is a really good combination and make for a very pleasing story. I will definitely follow Kitty’s adventures.

tt10407952flttAmazon US Amazon UK

About Iain Reading
IainPhotoIain Reading is passionate about Root Beer, music, and writing. He is Canadian, but currently resides in the Netherlands working for the United Nations. He has published 4 books in the Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency Series.

(That little pup has stolen my heart!)

For more information, go to http://www.kittyhawkworld.com/

Twitter: https://twitter.com/kittyhawkworld

Goodreads: https://www.goodreads.com/author/show/7276101.Iain_Reading

Excerpt from Kitty Hawk

Prologue

Back Where The Entire Adventure Began

As soon as the engine began to sputter, I knew that I was in real trouble. Up until then, I had somehow managed to convince myself that there was just something wrong with the fuel gauges. After all, how could I possibly have burnt through my remaining fuel as quickly as the gauges seemed to indicate? It simply wasn’t possible. But with the engine choking and gasping, clinging to life on the last fumes of aviation fuel, it was clear that when the fuel gauges read, “Empty,” they weren’t kidding around.
The lightning strike that took out my radio and direction-finding gear hadn’t worried me all that much. (Okay, I admit it worried me a little bit.) It wasn’t the first time that this had happened to me, and besides, I still had my compasses to direct me to where I was going. But I did get a little bit concerned when I found nothing but open ocean as far my eyes could see at precisely the location where I fully expected to find tiny Howland Island—and its supply of fuel for the next leg of my journey—waiting for me. The rapidly descending needles on my fuel gauges made me even more nervous as I continued to scout for the island, but only when the engine began to die did I realize that I really had a serious problem on my hands.
The mystery of the disappearing fuel.
The enigma of the missing island.
The conundrum of what do I do now?
“Exactly,” the little voice inside my head said to me in one of those annoying ‘I-told-you-so’ kind of voices. “What do you do now?”
“First, I am going to stay calm,” I replied. “And think this through.”
“You’d better think fast,” the little voice said, and I could almost hear it tapping on the face of a tiny wristwatch somewhere up there in my psyche. “If you want to make it to your twentieth birthday, that is. Don’t forget that you’re almost out of fuel.”
“Thanks a lot,” I replied. “You’re a big help.”
Easing forward with the control wheel I pushed my trusty De Havilland Beaver into a nosedive. Residual fuel from the custom-made fuel tanks at the back of the passenger cabin dutifully followed the laws of gravity and spilled forward, accumulating at the front and allowing the fuel pumps to transfer the last remaining drops of fuel into the main forward belly tank. This maneuver breathed life back into the engine and bought me a few more precious minutes to ponder my situation.
“Mayday, mayday, mayday,” I said, keying my radio transmitter as I leveled my flight path out again. “This is aircraft Charlie Foxtrot Kilo Tango Yankee, calling any ground station or vessel hearing this message, over.”
I keyed the mic off and listened intently for a reply. Any reply. Please? But there was nothing. There was barely even static. My radio was definitely fried.
It was hard to believe that it would all come down to this. After the months of preparation and training. After all the adventures that I’d had, the friends I’d made, the beauty I’d experienced, the differences and similarities I’d discovered from one culture to the next and from one human being to the next. All of this in the course of my epic flight around the entire world.
Or I should say, “my epic flight almost around the entire world,” in light of my current situation.
And the irony of it was absolutely incredible. Three-quarters of a century earlier the most famous female pilot of them all had disappeared over this exact same endless patch of Pacific Ocean on her own quest to circle the globe. And she had disappeared while searching for precisely the same island that was also eluding me as I scanned the horizon with increasing desperation.

“Okay,” I thought to myself. “Just be cool and take this one step at a time to think the situation through.” I closed my eyes and focused on my breathing, slowing it down and reining in the impulse to panic. Inside my head, I quickly and methodically replayed every flight that I’d ever flown. Every emergency I’d ever faced. Every grain of experience that I had accumulated along the long road that had led me to this very moment. Somewhere in there was a detail that was the solution to my current predicament. I was sure of it. And all I had to do was find it.

Maybe the answer to my current situation lay somewhere among the ancient temples of Angkor in Cambodia? Or in the steamy jungles of east Africa? Or inside the towering pyramids of Giza? Or among the soaring minarets of Sarajevo? Or on the emerald rolling hills and cliffs of western Ireland? Or on the harsh and rocky lava fields of Iceland?
Wherever the answer was, it was going to have to materialize quickly, or another female pilot (me) would run the risk of being as well-known throughout the world as Amelia Earhart. And for exactly the same reason.
“It’s been a good run at least,” the little voice inside my head observed, turning oddly philosophical as the fuel supplies ran critically low. “You’ve had more experiences on this journey around the world than some people do in their entire lifetime.”
“That’s it!” I thought.
Maybe the answer to all this lies even further back in time? All the way back to the summer that had inspired me to undertake this epic journey in the first place. All the way back to where North America meets the Pacific Ocean—the islands and glaciers and whales of Alaska.
All the way back to where this entire adventure began.

 

 

3 thoughts on “Kitty Hawk and the Curse of the Yukon Gold (Kitty Hawk Flying Detective Agency #1)

    • We could all benefit from living by native philosophies more, I think. They still have a lot to offer. It was a great read and I’m looking forward to the next instalment.

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