You are all going to LOVE my July Book Club pick, The Long Flight Home, by Alan Hlad. Seriously LOVE it.
This is one of those rare stories that Has. It. All. A well-researched historical fiction piece, it’s set during the London Blitz of WWII (before American had become involved in the battle,) a rich backdrop for a diverse cast of characters which include the ordinary, the extraordinary, and the downright intriguing; men, women, and… pigeons!
The story quickly draws you in to the plight of London, of England, and all of Europe, while endearing you to its main protagonists, Ollie, Susan and dear dear Duchess, as they try desperately to save London, win the war, and move forward with their lives - which at this time hang in the balance.
It centers upon a top secret mission, Source Columba, and the countless number of those pressed into service delivering coded messages across enemy lines; the daring acts were fulfilled by homing pigeons - over 200,000 in fact, utilized by British Intelligence between 1939 and 1945, and contributed in incredibly significant ways to the successful defense of Great Britain.
A Note from the author: In 2012, I became captivated by a British news report about a man who made an extraordinary discovery while renovating an abandoned house in the Surrey countryside. In its chimney, he found the skeletal remains of a homing pigeon. Attached to its leg was a small canister that contained a coded message that had been written during World War II—one that has yet to be deciphered by cryptologists around the world.