THE MARY JANE MISSION
LTDBooks Reissue, Originally Published
Reviewed by Joy Calderwood
World War II Thriller
In 1945, a World War II bomber appears out of nowhere, near an airfield on Guam. Aboard are signs of violence, bloodstains and bullet holes. In 1990, the same bomber appears mysteriously on radar over the Pacific, for a short time every few days, on a heading approaching Japan. Only a few people now living know that before this bomber disappeared and reappeared, it had been on a mission to drop a third atomic bomb on still-stubborn Japan.
Les Schilling is the fighter pilot who has tracked the stray B-29 during its 1990 appearances. Les is also the son of the man who was in charge of the B-29ís ground crew during World War II. Robert Schilling has felt responsible for the loss of the B-29 Mary Jane ever since. Robertís former commanding officer, General Phillip Cameron, realizes that the Mary Jane is time-warped, still on its bomb run, determined to turn 1990 Kyoto into a radioactive wasteland.
For author Daniel Wyatt, like the military he writes about, the mission is everything. Wyattís mission is to tell a story. He has conscientiously created people to carry out his plot, giving them backgrounds and a few personal conflicts, but fleshing these people out and making them live is irrelevant to his [storytelling] mission. The Schilling family, General Cameron, and most of the other major characters are ideal military folk, straight arrows, experts dedicated to duty. Only Tiger, Lesís flying partner, and Toshika, girlfriend of Lesís brother, step outside their expected paths when put under pressure. Tiger and Toshika both develop into engaging characters capable of catching our sympathies.
Wyatt is a long-time student of World War II military history. THE MARY JANE MISSION includes so much technical knowledge that it appears to have been written strictly for military buffs and members of the military. There is enough jargon to slow down the beginning of the book quite seriously for a civilian such as myself. Jargon isnít the only thing slowing down the plot. About half way through the book, the charactersí families finally get out of our way, and allow the pace to carry THE MARY JANE MISSION to its suspenseful conclusion.
Daniel Wyatt has some moral points to make, in addition to portraying the Schilling familyís dedication to serving their country. He lays out, with projected statistics, the saved lives which resulted from dropping the two atomic bombs and forcing an end to the fighting. He also insists upon the ability to develop friendly relations with a former enemy. Once the war is done, itís behind us, Wyatt says, and itís best for all if we start fresh.
The MARY JANE MISSION is brightened with some striking military color. If you like flying, complete with screaming aerial maneuvers, these will give you adrenaline rushes. The time displacement phenomenon is handled smoothly enough to suspend our disbelief. A pilotís view from the cockpit is described so clearly that I have dramatic visual images of an airborne World War II Superfortress bomber, with the nose of a modern fighter jet creeping up on either side of it. I like flying, so the flight sequences made me glad to have read THE MARY JANE MISSION.
June 2004 Review
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