Shooting an Albatross
Steven R. Lundin
Reviewed by Richard R. Blake for Reader Views (3/09)
In the year 1943 the United States was deeply involved in World War II on the European front. As a result of the war effort, this was also a unique year in the game of golf. It was the only year in the history of professional golf that games were canceled for the entire season.
The 170th Field Artillery Battalion of the Army took over and occupied the El Rancho Golf Course in Hollywood, California. Recently discovered facts of history give substance to this fictional account of “Shooting an Albatross” written by Steven R. Lundin.
An army General and a naval Admiral arranged to play an unauthorized round of golf, in a match which would give prestige to both branches of the military. Knowing their own limitations in the game, they each selected a man from their ranks to fill out the foursome to represent their branch of service. The Admiral chose SN. Bentley Knudson, the General chose Pvt. Evan Wilkins. Athletic, handsome, quiet, and confident Wilkins is relieved from artillery duty to concentrate on preparing for the big game on the prestigious empty golf course.
Mansions bordering the back of the golf course were owned by Hollywood film industry moguls. John Nichols, father of Amanda Nichols, owned one of these. Answering Amanda’s startled scream Evan rushed in to rescue her from an unidentified spy. This effort resulted in a dinner invitation in Evan’s honor at the Nichols home. Amanda introduced Evan to a world of affluence and sumptuous living. She secretly joins Evan’s daily training on the golf course. The young couple’s relationship develops into a wartime romance.
Evan’s commanding officer, Major Floyd Akerly, became annoyed with Evan’s golf privileges. He was soon obsessed with the thought of revenge as the flicker of frustration fanned the flames into fiery passion. He also begrudged the fact that he no longer had any jurisdiction over Evan.
After the dinner party at the Nichols, where Floyd falsely thought he would monopolize Amanda for the evening, he became possessed as his resentment toward Evan grew. His animosity exploded into jealousy and exposed his dark evil side, which produces an anger and rage which ultimately destroyed his sanity.
The golf competition was set for the last day of August. The spectators included newsmen, film industry executives, members of the UCLA golf team, Hollywood celebrities, men from all branches of the military and other golf enthusiasts.
In an attempt to discredit Evan, Floyd was caught in a despicable act. He was beaten, demoted in rank and taken into custody by the Military Police. Left alone in his cell he continued to plan his revenge.
Following the golf tournament, Evan and Amanda made plans to marry as soon as he returned from Europe. The action that follows moves quickly, as Lundin creatively weaves a fast-moving plot of deception, murder, intrigue, suspense, and romance.
The book begins and ends relating a series of visits by a distinguished guest in the home of 94-year-old Floyd Akerly. Floyd narrates the story of the golf game, Evan Wilkins, the European battlefield and of his part in the story. The final scenes lead to a climactic, unexpected, dramatic conclusion.
Golf enthusiasts will know that to shoot an albatross is rare, a double eagle. It may mean shooting a seabird, or shooting an individual that holds back a man’s achievement. Steve R. Lundin has masterfully crafted “Shooting an Albatross” around this theme.
This is a book for anyone enjoying the genre of intrigue, suspense, or romance. Lundin includes the use of comedy and the game of golf to draw the reader into a look into the past, a heartwarming story, and a madman’s psyche. “Shooting an Albatross” by Steven R. Lundin is a great read.