3 out of 4 stars
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The Warramunga's Aftermath of War by Greg Kater is a crime mystery novel set in Australia right after the end of WWII. This is the second book in a trilogy that started with The Warramunga's War.
Right off the bat, we meet our two main heroes, Jamie Munro and Jack O’Brien (also called Jacko), who, after being involved in intelligence and counter-espionage during the war, are now once again working together, this time as heads of the Darwin office of the Commonwealth Investigation Services (CIS), an organization dealing both with garden-variety and uncommon criminals in the northern part of Australia.
After learning about a distress signal given by a fishing boat nearby, Jamie and Jacko set off to investigate. Much to their surprise, the boat is anything but a genuine fishing boat, and its cargo is a strange one too. When bodies of children are found floating around the boat, and an alive, terrified child is found hidden on the lower deck, they both suspect that the crew is involved in human trafficking. They soon learn that, indeed, the criminals are involved in child trafficking for the pleasure of rich pedophiles. Thus begins their major investigation into the trafficking ring, where both are hell-bent on bringing the pervert criminals to justice.
The central theme of the first part of the book is a straightforward criminal investigation, and I figured out fast who the bad guy were.
What surprised me was what came after, in the second part, when the initial investigation came to an end. In many stories, this would be the end of the book. Not in The Warramunga's Aftermath of War, however. It continued with a gripping adventure story set in the Australian wilderness involving tracking and taunting the enemy. I have to admit, I enjoyed this new adventure way too much. There were moments where I even laughed out loud.
The story was solid, and the characters were well fleshed-out. I could easily warm up to them, even though I haven’t read the first book where they were initially introduced. Jacko is a half Warramunga aboriginal, who possesses some interesting tracking and survival skills, which helped him greatly during the cat and mouse spiel with the bad guys. While Jamie is an interesting character as well, Jacko really grew on me. He and his half-sister, Sarah, literally stole the show once they got their time in the limelight.
I loved reading the descriptions of the various places in Australia and the Philippines (which is where part of the story was set in); these are two locations I will probably never be able to visit in my life. When it comes to descriptions of places and bringing us closer to them, the author has it down pat.
My only gripe is with the dialogue, which is quite abundant in the book. While the descriptions were often breathtaking and engaging, the dialogue was what took me out of the story several times. It felt unnatural, stilted, and too long. Sometimes people would state the obvious. There were also several lengthy explanations when a party was speaking. This doesn’t happen in real-life conversations. People don’t talk like they write, and they don’t express their every thought in words.
Overall, I give The Warramunga's Aftermath of War 3 out of 4 stars. I haven’t found any major grammatical errors, but I can’t ignore the weakness in the dialogue. Besides this issue, however, the book was quite fun to read. Lovers of crime, mystery, and thriller novels will enjoy reading it. People who are fond of adventure stories set in Australia will like it as well.
The Warramunga's Aftermath of War
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