Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Review: BLACK WINGS by Kathleen Toomey Jabs

5 of 5 stars

Shiny gold aviator wings. Black wings. What do these two things have in common? That is what Lt. Bridget Donovan sets out to discover when she learns her former roommate at the Academy, Audrey Richards, is killed when her F/A 18 Hornet fighter plane failed to gain altitude during a night launch and plunged into the sea.

On the surface it appears to be an accident, but when Bridget visits Audrey's mother to pay her respects, she's in for a nasty surprise. Mrs. Richards hands Bridget a pair of black wings she found in Audrey's flight pants and a photo depicting a Wall of Shame. Mrs. Richards wants answers, not pat Navy speak. Bridget has no idea what she is getting into when she agrees to investigate the photo's origin.

Ms. Jabs tells this riveting story in two timelines, present day and during the women's Academy's years. We are given a glimpse of what it's like to be a woman in the Navy--the regulations, the hardships, constantly trying to prove that they are as good as the men. Not many make it through plebe summer, but when Audrey takes Bridget under her wings, Bridget improves her performance and a fledging friendship is formed.

The writing in this story is sharp and intelligent. The author clearly has first-hand knowledge of the Navy and it shows. The character of Bridget is tenacious in her pursuit of the truth about Audrey's death. The reader feels her sorrow, her regrets, and her outrage at what she sees as a cover-up of the accident.  The pages fly by quickly--back and forth between the timelines--until everything in this military mystery is revealed. In the end, no matter how you view these two women, there is no doubt that it's good to have an advocate like Lt. Bridget Donovan on your side.  Highly Recommended.

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