4 out of 4 stars
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Review of The Warramunga’s War
4 out of 4 rating
Greg Kater did a great job with this historical novel, fair dinkum. Warramunga refers to the Aboriginal tribe settled around Tennant Creek in the Australian Northern Territory. As the story opens in July of 1941 the half-aborigine Jacko O’Brien is serving with Australian forces in Syria fighting the Vichy French Foreign Legion collaborators of the German Army. He comes to the aid of Lt. James (Jamie) Munro, 2/5 Battalion, Australian 7th Division, who is pinned down by snipers. For the rest of the novel the two are inseparable. They are soon transferred to Cairo and sensitive assignments with the Commonwealth Investigation Service and MI6 working with Capt. Johnny Cook. The campaign against the Afrika Korps is the background for a tale of intrigue winding through the bazaars and nightlife of the Egyptian city. A serial killer is also on the loose. With victory over Rommel in 1943, Jamie and Jacko are reassigned to duty in the war against Japan. The story jumps to Darwin in September of 1945 and unfinished business to resolve.
Like Texas, Australia can be a state of mind and Greg Kater paints a vivid mental image during the climactic journey down the Bitumen road and rougher trails all the way through to Halls Creek and beyond into the King Leopold Ranges in the Kimberley that conceals old bushranger hideouts. You can almost smell the tea offered at campsites along the way when the billy boiled. The author can also handle a guitar and as a bonus presents his original arrangement of the “Waterbag Song” complete with musical notation for the chorus.
The reader is introduced to remote places such as Katherine, Mataranka, Wave Hill Station and Fitzroy Crossing. We learn that a place called Daly Waters functioned as an international airport, Australia’s first, during the 1930’s and serviced American B-17’s on missions against the Japanese in the Solomon Islands and New Guinea. The triumphant denouement includes a Warramunga corroboree, enriching our cultural knowledge.
An element of romance blossomed when Jacko was in Egypt and met Monique, a French-Syrian heiress. Not even the distance between Cairo and Darwin could cool the mutual ardor of the relationship. This plotline was skillfully handled, mixing it in with everything else that was happening and by the end of the novel there was an optimistic hint that Monique and her family would be coming to Australia under postwar resettlement.
No shortcomings with the editing or proofreading were found and no spelling mistakes. The first time, though, the word tyre, as in flat tyre, came up it was necessary to remind myself that this novel is not written in American English and the word is indeed spelled that way here.
With a well-deserved rating of 4 out of 4 stars, it is easy to see this being adapted someday for a PBS Masterpiece co-production with the BBC or ITV. Until that happens be sure to read “The Warramunga’s War.”
The Warramunga's War
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