2014’s Silver Bullet is the third novel in Scott and Graham’s Order of the Air series. The Great Depression is three years old and President Roosevelt’s victory over Hoover has taken place just three days before the book opens. As a result, some Americans are filled with hope and others with a grim, fanatical rage.
Thanks to the events of the previous novel, the gang at Gilchrist Aviation (Alma Gilchrist, Mitch Sorley, Lewis Segura, Jerry Ballard, and recent hire Stasi Rostov) are more financially secure than many Americans. The prize money they won, as well as their alliance with millionaire Harry Kershaw, mean that none of them are wondering where their next meal is coming from … though they do have to budget carefully.
Harry seems to have given up collecting eldritch artifacts of mystical doom. This time, our gang is threatened only by weird super-science machines and roving gangs of armed fascists.
There are two main plotlines in this book.
One involves a collection of relics currently at the Metropolitan Museum. Archaeologist Jerry Ballard has been hired to examine it in preparation for a possible sale to the museum. The job takes an unexpected twist when Jerry realizes that one of the artifacts in the collection, an ancient medallion, is more than just a souvenir of Alexandria, of a type sold by the gross to Hellenistic tourists. The medallion offers a crucial clue to the location of Alexander the Great’s tomb, a location that was lost to history centuries ago.
The find could offer Jerry an opportunity for scholarship and fame. With the medallion in hand, he and a trained team could find a site lost since antiquity. Expeditions take time and money to arrange, however, and time is something Jerry does not have. Someone else has a good idea what the collection contains and they are willing to go to some extreme lengths to get their hands on the medallion.
Speaking of old history coming back to haunt people, the person who has his eye on the medallion, scriptwriter/occultist/fascist Bill Pelley, is smart enough to hire professionals to handle the job. These professionals just happen to be Stasi’s former companions in crime. Stasi has a colourful past and she hasn’t managed to outrun it yet. They ask Stasi to help them rob the museum; she refuses. Pelly also wants Stasi to use her talents as a medium to summon a long-dead soul from the afterlife. She evades the request. She isn’t out of danger; she and her friends are now on the radar of the bad guys.
Meanwhile, near Colorado Springs, Lewis divides his time between being tutored in the art of divination by Stasi and helping to rescue aviators lost in the mountains. The first has to take a second seat to the second when the region is suddenly plagued with a series of mysterious plane crashes, crashes that all occur in the same small region. The common factor turns out to be an interesting bit of Colorado history; famed inventor Nicola Tesla once had a laboratory there and at least one of his machines seems to still be in working order.
And just as with the medallion, Pelley’s goons are very determined to commandeer Tesla’s machinery for their cause….
This book was a bit darker than the first two. World War Two is waiting off stage; it won’t begin for another four to nine years (depending on where you’re reading this), but it’s pretty clear that war is coming. Too bad that the US is filled with people who, if they had their druthers, would be fighting on the side of the Axis.
While a lot of this novel is about punching fascists, always a fine occupation, a lot of it isn’t. Jerry and his relationships are explored in more detail. Stasi and Mitch discover a work-around for Mitch’s war-wound problems. Lewis and Alma’s relationship gets less attention than it did in the previous books, but there is at least one major development.
I didn’t care for this book quite as much as the previous ones. Firstly, because I am all Teslaed out, and secondly, because I didn’t care for the way the Museum plot and the Tesla plots were integrated; I think I would have preferred it if Pelley hadn’t been connected to both. Overall, this felt less like a coherent story and more like a set-up for longer term plotting. I wonder if the fourth book will confirm that this is what is going on.
Despite these reservations, I did enjoy this, plan to acquire the fourth one and any others that appear and would recommend this novel and the series of which it is a part. If you’ve read my earlier reviews you know that you can acquire it, as well as the first two, at a very reasonable price from Amazon. If you have not read my earlier reviews, you may do so here or just head to Amazon to get your own copy.