What’s Past is Prologue
In the sky, murder has no borders.
Europe, 1937. Stella North, who has learned to fly planes as a teen, has the opportunity to participate in a race across Europe for a hefty sum of prize money. The race is billed by its eccentric organizer, Lady Frith, as the “Circuit of Nations Olympics of the Air” and is designed to promote peace and sport among Europe’s young pilots; entrants must be under the age of 21.
Europe pre-WWII is an unsettled and dangerous place: civil war is raging in Spain, Hitler is in power in Germany, Italy has embraced Fascism, and in the Soviet Union, anyone who speaks out against the government is ruthlessly imprisoned and executed. The air race is going to be an unusual propaganda event for many of the participants. Stella needs to be careful as she navigates her way across Europe’s troubled skies, not least because of her own family background (her parents were murdered during the Russian Revolution, and her aunt and uncle fled to Britain with her when she was only three.)
Nevertheless, she is shocked when she witnesses one of the race’s participants using his plane to ram another pilot out of the sky. Early evidence points to the sullen and enigmatic French pilot, Tony Roberts, but he also claims that his own plane has been sabotaged. As events unfold, further evidence points to Stella herself — to outside eyes, it appears that she may be attempting to get rid of a competitor and pushing the blame onto her fellow racers. It’s up to Stella to unravel the mystery before she becomes the assassin’s next victim.
- ALSC/YALSA Odyssey Award Honor Book, 2024