4 out of 4 stars
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It always intrigues me when someone goes from a long-term career in something completely unrelated to writing a novel. It is inspiring and in the case of this author, the very best thing he could have done. His leap of faith was certainly not without merit and he seems to have a natural instinct for creating an enthralling tale.
The Warramunga's War by Greg Kater begins when young Australian officer Jamie Munro is pinned down under enemy fire during the Syrian campaign against the Vichy French in World War II. Fellow Australian, Corporal Jack ‘Jacko’ O’Brien, a half-Aboriginal member of the Warramunga tribe, rescues him from certain death with a phenomenal display of shooting skill, the likes of which Jamie has never seen before. Jacko's selflessness heralds the beginning of a strong bond between the two men, that lasts throughout the war and beyond.
Both men are promoted for their bravery and for their help in ending the Syrian campaign. They then get the opportunity to assist MI6 in Cairo, identifying German spies and intercepting communication. Throughout the desert war, they hone and fine-tune their counter-espionage activities.
Life in Cairo for Jamie and Jacko is not all work and hardship. They form a strong team with the local MI6 man, Johnny and two lovely locals. Fifi is a prostitute, and Yvette is a singer and bartender, and both of these skilled ladies can assist with gleaning information from their customers. They often find themselves lunching, wining and dining at the best spots in Cairo, sometimes even in the name of work! On one of his days off, Jacko meets a beautiful young French-Syrian woman, who agrees to guide him around the pyramids and he is instantly and irrevocably smitten.
This sweeping war saga leads the two men from Cairo into intelligence work in Southeast Asia and from there back to Australia. There they are asked to set up the post-war CIS (Commonwealth Investigation Service) in Darwin. Their first task is to track down two suspected German war criminals on the run who have linked up with a gang of thugs and are terrorising all in the Outback of Western Australia. This assignment once again requires Jacko's expert shooting and tracking skills to find this thieving gang of murderers, kidnappers and rapists and bring them to justice.
The Warramunga's War is the first of a trilogy, and if this book is anything to go by, I can't wait to read the next two! Greg Kater draws you in from the first words and keeps you hooked until the very end. He has a relaxed, easy and informal way of writing which leaves you empathizing strongly with his characters and itching to know more of the Australian culture and especially the Aborigines. I loved the colloquialisms used by Jacko throughout the novel, such as, “If I have a bit of a kip now I can set out at piccaninny dawn to trail her”. His colourful descriptions like “the pulsing drone of didgeridoos” bring the surroundings and the story immediately to life. I found myself actually hearing didgeridoos in the darkness!
I really enjoyed this book, and the sub-plot within the story adds mystery and comes full circle at the end. It is also refreshing to read a different side of the Second World War which has not been as readily documented as some of the other campaigns. Fictional and historical characters seamlessly merge with one another, making the history come alive.
If you are a fan of historical fiction, this one is for you! If you are not, I believe you would still enjoy this as just a great story with a bit of intrigue, a touch of romance and a slight thriller aspect to it.
I am giving this novel a rating of 4 out of 4 stars for all of the reasons listed above and for the fact that the editor has done a great job. I could only find two very minor mistakes throughout the entire novel. There was absolutely nothing that I disliked about this book. The story flowed naturally and easily, was very well written and keeps you wanting more all the way through.
The Warramunga's War
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