Saturday 9 March 2019

#BookReview — Skills of the Warramunga #HistoricalFiction #Thriller @gregkaterauthor

Skills of the Warramunga
By Greg Kater

Early in 1946, former army officer, Jamie Munro, and his half-Aboriginal friend and colleague, Jack 'Jacko' O'Brien, who head the Commonwealth Investigation Service in Darwin, are called on to assist in the rescue of Colonel John Cook, a senior operative of MI6, who has been kidnapped by bandits and taken into the jungles of Malaya.

Jamie and Jacko had worked in intelligence operations with Colonel Cook during the desert campaign in North Africa in the Second World War, as the Afrika Corps threatened Egypt.

With Jacko's half-sister, Sarah, a full-blood Aborigine from Tennant Creek, they arrive in Kuala Lumpur to find that they not only have to contend with the impenetrable jungle of the Malay peninsula, but also with a murderous and subversive organisation of Fascist criminals whose aim is to disrupt the creation of the Malayan Union by the British Military Authority, set to take place on 1st of April 1946, foment an uprising and take over control of the country.

All the inherent bushcraft skills of the Warramunga are needed to rescue Colonel Cook as well as prevent catastrophic mayhem on the Malayan peninsula.

This is the third book in the Warramunga trilogy.

A senior MI6 agent has gone missing. It is up to Jamie and Jacko from the Commonwealth Investigation Service (CIS) to discover the location of the MI6 agent, and rescue him before it is too late.

The Malayan Communist Party (MCP) and the British were allies during the Second World War. However, the war is now over. The winners proclaimed. But for the MCP the end of the war was only the beginning. Trained in guerrilla warfare and armed by the British, the MCP could pose a significant threat to state security. It is feared that the MCP might be entertaining the idea of taking control of Malaya and expelling the foreign white settlers. They certainly have the arms, the tactics and the motivation to do so. It is a brewing situation that needs close surveillance.

The head of MI6 operations for the eastern hemisphere, Colonel Johnny Cook, has just flown from London to Singapore to assist the new Malayan Security Service (MSS) — an intelligence agency that was set up by the British at the end of the war. They will be responsible for the security over the official ceremony, which will mark the creation of the Malayan Union. Nothing can be allowed to go wrong.

Jamie Munro, from the Commonwealth Investigation Service (CIS) in Darwin, was filling out forms when he took a call from Major Browning, of the Malayan Security Service. Browning informed Jamie that a senior MI6 agent has gone missing, feared kidnapped somewhere in the Cameron Highlands and that they needed the help of Jamie and his team to find him.

Along with his esteemed colleague, Jack “Jacko” O’Brien, and Jacko’s half-sister, Sarah, they must brave the Malayan jungle and find the lost agent and rescue him from his captors. It is a race against time, for there is no telling what the kidnappers might do next.

From the sweltering heat of the Malayan jungle to the desperate flight to Batavia, Skills of the Warramunga, by Greg Kater is one of the best Historical Fiction Thrillers I have ever read.

Having thoroughly enjoyed the first two books in the Warramunga trilogy, I could not wait to get my hands on book #3. I found myself immediately thrown back into the action. The story is compelling, gripping and utterly absorbing. Kater intuitively knows what makes a page-turning thriller. The pages flew by, and I found it impossible to put this book down. 

I greatly admire Kater’s approach to his writing. His narrative is so descriptive that at times it felt like I was watching the events unfold in front of me. Kater’s attention to detail and his easy prose style makes this book a real pleasure to read. Kater is, without a doubt, one of those authors who makes history come alive.

There are several characters worthy of note in this story, but one I was particularly fond of was Inspector Robert Douglas. Douglas is a secondary character, and on the face of it, he has little heroic qualities — he drinks excessively and is not the greatest judge of character — in fact, he is a terrible judge of character! Due to unforeseeable circumstances, Douglas finds himself in the most terrible of situations. Here, he is tested almost beyond his limits, but he calls upon an inner strength that he did not know he possessed. I thought his portrayal was brilliant. Kater has depicted a very flawed character, and yet, he gives Douglas a chance at redemption. This, for me, is what made Douglas such an appealing personality.

There are several antagonists in this story, although it isn’t clear in the beginning as to who they are, which certainly gave this story a sparkle of mystery. I have to be careful what I say as I don’t want to spoil the plot for anyone, but needless to say, the antagonists are wonderfully sly and incredibly dangerous. They certainly helped to drive this story forward. This is what makes Kater’s writing so refreshing. He creates totally believable characters.

The two protagonists of this series — Jamie and Jacko were once again fabulously portrayed. I have so enjoyed reading about them, and I feel quite bereft now that the trilogy has come to an end! 

Although Skills of the Warramunga can be read as a standalone, I would thoroughly recommend you start with book #1. The writing is superb. The stories are sublime. Kater may have just become my new favourite author of Historical Fiction Thrillers.

I Highly Recommend

Review by Mary Anne Yarde.
The Coffee Pot Book Club.

Greg Kater

Greg Kater is an Australian-based author. He lives in Sanctuary Cove, Gold Coast, Queensland and has recently retired from a 55-year international career in the resources industry. The Warramunga’s War is his first work of fiction. He has since written and published two more books, The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War and Skills of the Warramunga, altogether comprising a trilogy.
The principal fictional characters interact with actual historical figures and events which have been rigorously researched. The subject of the novel is partly inspired by the experiences of the author’s father during the war in the Middle East, and partly by his own experiences in northern Australia where he worked extensively throughout the Northern Territory and the Kimberley.

Connect with Greg: Website • Amazon Author Page • Facebook • Twitter • Goodreads.

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See you on your next coffee break!
Take Care,
Mary Anne xxx