BOOK REVIEW: Crestview author offers compelling resolution to Amelia Earhart mystery

Hinton

Crestview author Paul Hinton displays his first, recently published novel, "Last Flight of the Electra."

BRIAN HUGHES | News Bulletin
Published: Friday, June 6, 2014 at 10:30 AM.

The great thing about self-publishing is that anybody can release their inner novel.

The bad thing is that many wannabe authors do.

Cliché-riddled tomes fraught with improbable scenarios and stilted dialogue often fill such books and e-books.

Fortunately, "The Last Flight of the Electra," a finely wrought tale of nautical adventure and historic conjecture, isn't among them.

Crestview author Paul A. Hinton combated the first-time writer's urge to beleaguer his 360-page adventure with metaphor, mercilessly slaughtering literary darlings in a successful effort to skirt the traps into which many novice authors have tumbled.

"Stephen King tells you to get rid of the adverbs and get rid of the clichés," Hinton said. "You don't realize how much you think in clichés until you start writing. You get trained in them in Southern culture."

Historic conjecture

Hinton, a music minister at the First United Methodist Church, found inspiration for "Last Flight..." 10 years ago on a mission trip to the Marshall Islands.

Since then, his patient wife, Cecily, has put up with another woman in Hinton's life: aviator Amelia Earhart, who vanished during a 1937 attempt to circumnavigate the globe.

During a tour of Roi-Namur island, Hinton saw the ruins of a secret Japanese mini-submarine program base operational more than four years before the attack on Pearl Harbor.

"The islanders claim they saw Amelia there," Hinton said. "They said in one of the jail cells they found a brooch or a pin with the initials 'AE' on it."

Taking cues from countless reports, investigations, searches and historic conjectures, Hinton weaves an exciting tale of an elderly Marshallese mariner who constructs an oversized outrigger from the remains of Earhart's Lockheed Electra and sails it to Hawaii to deliver the flyer's journal.

His main characters, including the mariner Truc, the British sailing couple who first encounter him, several Coast Guardsmen, and a Honolulu TV crew, are richly developed and believable.

Forgivable typos

A delightful love story enhances the tale without getting smutty or drippy, and sufficient technical detail makes situations believable  — and exciting — but not ponderous.

There are also quite a few typos, mostly the kind spell check won't snag. The admiral's walking "gate" comes to mind.

And just as Ian Fleming famously issued James Bond the wrong gun in an early 007 novel, experts might find some technical error to quibble over. Like a Honolulu TV station would have a K call sign rather than a W.

I know it, and my TV friends know it. But do I care? Not a whit, because "Last Flight of the Electra" tumbles along with such compelling, page-turning energy that a first-time author's minor errors are easily forgiven as readers enjoy a sensational beach read.

CHECK IT OUT

"Last Flight..." is available to check out at the Crestview Public Library. It also is available for download and in print from Amazon.com, and in print from the author, 797-5314 or at Salon Josephine, 509 N. Ferdon Blvd., Crestview. 

Email News Bulletin Staff Arts and Entertainment Editor Brian Hughes at brianh@crestviewbulletin.com, follow him on Twitter @cnbBrian or call 850-682-6524.

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