Spring in 1938 and the seemingly invincible Japanese war machine is moving up the Yangtze River valley toward Hankow (Wuhan) in central China. American aviator Bill Monroe wins fame battling Japanese aircraft in the skies over the city, but decides to get out while the going is good and follow his beautiful girlfriend Sara back to the United States. On the homeward journey through Hong Kong and Shanghai, Bill’s friendship with a German anti-Nazi military advisor draws him into an investigation of espionage and involves him in multiple deadly intrigues.
Hankow Return, originally published in 1941 shortly before the United States entered the war, is a fun yet moving read, beautifully capturing the glamor of the last days of old Treaty-Port China. The realism of the novel comes from the author’s own experiences. Born in Ireland and educated at Oxford, Charles Stanley Archer worked in China for the Chinese Maritime Customs until 1940, when he joined the Royal Air Force.