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Black Wings by Kathleen Toomey Jabs
Review by Linda Marie Schumacher
Fuze Publishing Paperback  ISBN/ITEM#: 9780984141272
Date: 15 December 2011 List Price $19.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Black Wings, by Kathleen Toomey Jabs, centers on the death of a female aviator in an aircraft accident and whether it really was an accident. Black Wings is also a great novel about the integration of women into the Naval Academy and into the combat Navy.

Bridget Donovan is a newly commissioned Naval Public affairs Officer. During her normal day on the Pentagon News desk, Bridget hears of the death of a Naval Aviator in a training accident aboard an aircraft carrier. Soon after, Bridget finds out that the aviator is her US Naval Academy Class of 1990 roommate, Audrey Richards. No way does Bridget think the crash was an accident.

A little later, Bridget receives a phone call from a local reporter about the tradition of Black Wings. The mention of Black Wings brings back several memories to Bridget of gold naval aviator wings covered with black shoe polish being delivered to Audrey discreetly, like in her laundry or sliding them under the door of her room at the academy. Bridget goes to the home of Audrey's parents and her mother gives her more information about Audrey's Black Wings and also of the Wall of Shame at the Naval Academy. Against the orders of her superiors, Bridget searches further into Audrey's crash and digs up more info on the tradition of Black Wings.

The novel moves back and forth between Audrey's and Bridget's time at the Naval Academy and the present day where Audrey is investigating the aircraft accident. Part of the mystery is the actual crash and part is the research into the tradition of Black Wings, but both are enjoyable. Ms. Jabs presents lots of perspective on the early years of women at the Naval Academy and on the integration of women into combatant forces in the navy.

I enjoyed Ms. Jabsí perspective. I am very close to the source. In fact, I am a graduate of the Naval Academy from the Class of 1984. The stories of the Naval Academy stirred up gut-wrenching emotions in me and I commend Ms. Jabs for the detail and accuracy of the information she presents. I doubt that the average reader will experience the same emotions that I did, but if the reader is at all interested in the military, the Naval Academy, and specifically the integration of women into the Academy and the Navy, he or she will enjoy this book. I have no idea if the tradition of Black Wings is real. I never heard the term until I read this book, but it makes a great mystery.

Coincidentally, Ms. Jabs lives across town from me. I recommended over Facebook email that she send this book to Gumshoe Review and I am glad that she did. I have put off meeting her until I read the book and wrote the review, but I will set it up soon. Yes, I loved Black Wings and I will share it with my friends from the academy and see if they enjoy the mystery and get the same gut-wrenching emotions that I did.

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