The Cool Woman: A Novel
by John Aubrey Anderson
List Price: $14.99
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Review – The Cool Woman
Reviewed by Donn Taylor
A fast-moving novel with plenty of action and deeper than usual studies of character.
In the late stages of the Vietnam War, Second Lieutenant Bill Mann arrives for Air Force flight training with a sporty Corvette convertible and a burning ambition to follow his deceased father’s example as an outstanding fighter pilot. Despite the expectation that a black student would become a poor pilot, and despite his giving equal attention to books and beer, Mann quickly establishes himself at the top of the class. When he marries a beautiful black woman named Pip Powell, he thinks he has everything a young man could want.
Choosing the propeller-driven A-1 Skyraider instead of the F-4 jet fighter, Mann is assigned to a base in Thailand and promptly becomes his unit’s most dependable pilot, with his aircraft named “The Cool Woman.” That’s when things begin to go wrong. Nagging problems of race keep turning up, Pip writes that she’s divorcing him, and that drives him toward problem drinking. Worse than that, Mann carries a burden of hidden baggage: a violent racial incident in his Mississippi childhood caused him to flee the state with a foster-father and take on a new identity. Then someone who bears a grudge from that incident shows up in his squadron. And all of these factors become involved as Mann is tested to the limit and beyond in a dangerous and grueling combat operation over Laos.
It’s always a pleasure to find an author who is master of his subject in fine detail, and John Aubrey Anderson ably fills that bill. He displays intimate knowledge of the aircraft and flight operations in Southeast Asia. But best of all, he understands the values and psychology of men in combat, both officer and enlisted. Thus the novel is populated by a cast of colorful and realistic characters, each with his own history and each contributing to an the author’s accurate portrayal of men in the combat zone. But Anderson goes beyond describing the action by taking the reader into the internal value and spiritual struggles of the main characters, and his treatment of racial questions transcends the usual clich?s. In addition to a distinctive narrative voice, Anderson rewards the reader with striking turns of phrase: During a thunderstorm, a water tower “disappeared behind layered draperies of charcoal gray rain.” In Bangkok, “GIs were as thick as the canal smell.” And a huge Marine sergeant “was flanked by a pair of M-16 rifles equipped with competent-looking corporals.”
The result is a fast-moving novel with plenty of action and deeper than usual studies of character. I recommend it highly for readers of all ages down to and including junior high.
About John Aubrey Anderson
Books by John Aubrey Anderson
And If I Die (The Black or White Chronicles #3)
Release date: 08/22/2007
List Price: $32.50
Sale Price: $1.99
Wedgewood Grey (The Black or White Chronicles #2) (Bk. 2)
Release date: 02/12/2007
List Price: $19.99
Sale Price: $2.84