cover image Two Blackbirds

Two Blackbirds

Garry Ryan. NeWest Press (Manda Group, U.S. dist.; LitDistCo, Canadian dist.), $19.95 trade paper (232p) ISBN 978-1-927063-50-7

1944: the Second World War still rages on but the end is in sight. Although she is an ace in her own right, Canadian aviatrix Sharon Lacey is relegated to pilot duties away from combat zones. This in no way ensures her safety; enemy planes probe into Allied airspace well behind front lines, other pilots die in flying mishaps, and Nazi Germany's Vergeltungswaffe weapons, the V1 buzzbombs and the V2 rockets, are raining down on Allied cities. Worse, Sharon is about to get a bitter lesson in the cruel divisions of class and race in a world where well connected Fascist sympathizers use their social position to avoid punishment and the color of a man's skin is seen as justification for murder. The slender volume covers almost a year; the effect is the Second World War as seen in fast-forward. As well, Sharon's perspective is oddly modern; while progressives existed in the 1940s, Sharon reacts less like one of those and more like a 21st-century woman transported back to the Second World War. The issues Sharon wrestles with in this second book in his Blackbirds trilogy are important, but the treatment and the novel itself are disappointingly slight, more entertaining than illuminating. (May)