History and mystery

Since they made history as pilots for the U.S. Army Air Force in World War II, the 300 surviving octogenarian Women Airforce Service Pilots (WASP) went largely unrecognized until recent congressional action, awarding these women  the Congressional Gold Medal—the highest civilian honor bestowed by the United States Congress — for extraordinary service.

A new mystery by Margit Liesche, Hollywood Buzz (from Poisoned Pen Press), is a story of these women. It is Liesche’s second WWII home-front novel based on actual events and well-known figures. Jacqueline Cochran, the real-life leader of the WASP, plays a key role in its plot.

“With this book, I set out to cast much deserved sunlight on this band of flying sisters,” Liesche said.

The book itself deals with the making of a documentary on the WASP. Flyer Pucci Lewis, who was introduced in Lipstick and Lies, is filling in for an aviator injured in a suspicious crash. Meanwhile, she is drawn into a homicide investigation when a Hollywood director is murdered.

A few WASP facts: Between 1942 and 1944, 1,074 women earned their wings. Collectively, they logged more than 60 million miles, flying essential non-combat military missions.

They were never awarded full military status and were ineligible for officer status.Following the war, the women pilots paid their own way home. And for the 38 women who died in the line of duty, their families had to pay to transport their bodies and arrange burials.

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