Black Wings
by Kathleen Toomey Jabs

Fuze Publishing, 2011. ISBN 978-9-984-14127-2.
Reviewed by Sharon Wildwind
Posted on 07/27/2012

Fiction: Mystery

This is a tough book in all ways except the author's writing skill. Her ability to tell a story is very polished and satisfying. It may take the reader a little while to settle into her choice to write current events in past tense and events at Annapolis in present tense, but this doesn't get in the way of the story.

The characters of Kathleen Jabs' mystery are tough. Bridget Donovan and Audrey Richards have beaten the odds just by being admitted to the U. S. Naval Academy in Annapolis, Maryland.

The Academy is even tougher. Bridget has been there less than twenty-four hours when she receives her first dressing-down from an upperclassman for closing the door to her room. For plebes (first-year students) at Annapolis there is no privacy. Eating an uninterrupted meal is a privilege, not a right. Every moment is a physical, mental, and emotional challenge. Surviving the first years only means that life gets tougher. By their upperclass year, Audrey and Bridget are in more trouble than they could have imagined four years earlier. After graduation, too much pressure and too many secrets finally causes an irreconcilable rift in their friendship.

Fast-forward a year. Lieutenant Richards is assigned to an aircraft carrier, on the verge of becoming the first female to be qualified as a carrier pilot. Lieutenant Donovan is assigned to the Pentagon as a Deputy Assistant for Media Operations. To Bridget falls the task of writing the media release when Audrey crashes and dies during a takeoff. Then, she's faced with the toughest task of all: to find out if Audrey's death was an accident or murder without letting the Navy know she's even investigating. If they do, she may not live to finish the investigation.

This is a great story about the insanity female cadets endure at the military academies, about learning to survive in the military, about friendship, and about secrets. I recommend it for anyone who is curious about military life or has experienced that life themselves.

I have one personal prejudice. If a book has a prologue I always read the book first and the prologue last. That's what I did with this one and I was glad I did it that way. Use your own judgment about whether to read the prologue first, last, or not at all. You have a complete story without it.

Read an excerpt from this book.

The author is a 1988 graduate of the United States Naval Academy. She served on active duty and is currently a Captain in the Navy Reserve. She holds an MA and MFA in Creative Writing. Her stories have been published in a number of literary journals and received several prizes, including selection in the National Public Radio Selected Shorts program. Black Wings is her first book. For more information about the author, visit her publisher's website.

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