3 out of 4 stars
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The Warramunga's War by Greg Kater follows the lives and adventures of two Australian soldiers, Jack O' Brien and Jamie Munro, during World War II. Jack O' Brien or Jacko, is an educated half-caste Warramunga aboriginal who rescues a wounded Jamie during the Syrian campaign against the Vichy French, and the two become fast friends. When a recuperating Jamie is recruited by MI6 and ordered to go to Egypt, he requests for Jacko to also be transferred with him.
In Egypt, Jamie and Jacko enter the world of espionage. Together with their team of other MI6 officers and interesting recruits in the form of young waitresses and belly dancers, they spend an eventful time in Cairo tracing and arresting German spies. However, when one of their agents, the beautiful, young Farida is found murdered, Jamie and Jacko find themselves in the middle of a hunt for a serial killer and they promise to do all they can to help the local police with their investigation. For Jacko, Egypt is not all about war and danger! The beautiful Monique captures his heart and he finds himself drawing closer to Monique and her family with each passing day. When the war in Egypt draws to a close, Jamie and Jacko are sent to Australia to help with the newly formed Commonwealth Intelligence Service. They soon find themselves on a chase across the outbacks of Western Australia tracking a couple of German spies. The first in the trilogy, this story ends with Jacko introducing Jamie to his Warramunga family.
Set across exotic locations from Syria to Egypt to the Australian outback, this book manages to capture the distinct scenery and flavor of each of these locations. I especially liked how the writer manages to bring out the hustle-bustle of the city of Cairo in contrast to the wide, arid barrenness of Australia. The variety of characters in the book add to the richness of the story. With each passing adventure, Jamie and Jacko's friendship grows stronger. With their unique brands of humor and a strong sense of duty, they are immensely likable principal characters. The women, young and beautiful and brave and willing to risk it all to do their bit for the war, bring about a fascinating and glamorous aspect to the tale. The author also pays a lot of attention to the variation in the languages of the different characters across the different continents.
Although this book is supposed to be a World War story, it actually has a variety of themes. Except for the beginning which sees some battlefield action in Syria, the war is usually a distant theme in the rest of the story. Cairo is all about the intrigue and thrill of espionage. However, Jamie and Jacko make the task of catching spies look almost too easy. They also do not seem to be too worried about staying under-cover or keeping a low profile, preferring to meet their contacts at the same cafe every time. Australia sees them in a new avatar altogether. Here they are like policemen looking to track and arrest a group of troublemakers. As I was expecting to read a wartime story, the changing themes of the tale were what I liked least about the book.
The book is well edited and I could hardly find any typing errors or grammatical mistakes. I give this book 3 out of 4 stars and recommend it to readers who would enjoy a good tale of friendship and camaraderie set in the backdrop of World War II.
The Warramunga's War
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