Touting her first work of fiction as a novel of the press in Vietnam, Oklahoma City-born Theasa Tuohy is an international journalist who's worked for five daily newspapers and as a writer and editor for The Associated Press.
She was the first female assistant city editor at The Detroit News. Her mother was a barnstorming pilot and a contemporary of Will Rogers and Wiley Post. All of this is grist for the mill in “Five O'Clock Follies” (Calliope Press, $14.99, on sale Monday).
Tuohy's book smacks the reader with powerful descriptions of heat and fire, blood and guts, subterfuge and camouflage in what was probably the least loved conflict in America's history. Protagonist Angela Martinelli is a pushy journalist reminiscent of the female lead in “The China Syndrome” — with a bit of comic relief and red hair a la Brenda Starr, the leggy reporter of the funny papers.
Angela combines these traits and more as she gamely steps off a plane in a dazzling frock and stiletto heels to the steamy dangers of Saigon, her signature red hair unfurled like a challenging flag. Divorced and determined to be her own person, the talented writer and daughter of privilege gets short shrift in the male-dominated reporting scene covering Vietnam.
Changing her designer shoes into combat boots only heightens her good looks. Angela proves she's as hard-boiled as the men attending the five o'clock follies, briefings that separate the guys from the gal. Testosterone reels while the gorgeous redhead churns scoops like rotors on flawed helicopters.
She goes the distance nosing out the truth behind the war and rumors of war while dropping into battle sites, sleeping in tunnels running with stench and rodents and being captured by the enemy. Accused of consorting with the Viet Cong, she proves her mettle, drinks and swears like a proverbial sailor and pays the price for living her truth.
This is a riveting tale of a female correspondent who dives into danger and love with equal abandon.
— Mary McReynolds