Thursday, 21 March 2019

#BookReview — Reschen Valley: Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set, by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger #HistoricalFiction @ckalyna

Reschen Valley:

Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set

By Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

She wants her home. He wants control. The Fascists want both.
1920. Former Austrian Tyrol.
When Katharina Thaler, a young Tyrolean farmer, finds a wounded Italian engineer in the mountains of the Reschen Valley, her decision to save his life thrusts both of them into a labyrinth of corruption, prejudice and greed.
Angelo Grimani, a civil engineer, knows the details of a project that may destroy Katharina’s valley. Not in favour of it himself, he returns home to fend off the forces that envision the biggest reservoir in Italy, headed by Angelo’s own father.
As the Tyroleans gear themselves to fight for their land, the Fascist party gathers power and momentum. Katharina and Angelo must each decide what to protect: love or country?
Dive in and discover the gripping saga based on a history you never knew. This box set contains the first three of six books: No Man’s Land: Part 1, The Breach: Part 2, The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: The Prequel and bonus material including, From Jutta’s Kitchen: 12 South Tyrolean Recipes to bring the Reschen Valley series closer to homeSave now on the regular individual retail price!
“They can take your land, they can take your weapons, but they cannot take the fight out of you…”

When Italy had joined the Triple Entente, they had been promised much. However, such promises seemingly meant nothing when the Great Powers met at Versailles. Instead of the land they had been promised when they signed the secret Treaty of London, Italy would have to be content with the territory of Trentino and the Tyrol, a permanent seat on the League of Nations, and a massive debt to a nation they had rapidly lost all respect for. So much for their French and British allies and their promises. So much for America and their loans.

Captain Angelo Grimani knew all about the war. He had fought at the Battle of Marmolada under the command of a Colonel who was not fit to serve. Good men had died and for what? Greed? Power?

Katharina Thaler is as content as any woman could be after the end of a war which claimed so many lives. But now, on top of everything else, those in power had decided to annex Tyrol to Italy. Italian soldiers were now patrolling the newly attained border. Life, as Katharina had known it, would never be the same again.

When I was asked if I would like to review Reschen Valley: Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger I jumped at the chance. The box set contains the first two books in the series as well as the prequel: 

No Man’s Land
The Breach
The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: A Reschen Valley Prequel.

I am going to approach this review the same way I approached the box set — one book at a time!

No Man’s Land

Italy is ready to embrace industry, but to do so, they need electricity. Their newly acquired land could hold the answer. As soon as the annexation has been signed off, they can start work on their planned dams.

Katharina Thaler lives in one of the proposed sites for a dam, but for now, she is oblivious to their plans, and besides, even if she did know, Katharina has more pressing issues to worry about. She is pregnant and the child‘s father has abandoned her.

Captain Angelo Grimani had been sent to the Reschen Valley to survey the land. However, while he was there, he was attacked. If it were not for Katharina, he would be dead. He likes Katharina, and in another time and place then maybe they could have… But that was just wishful thinking, for Angelo is married and his life is far away from Reschen.

No Man’s Land is a beautifully woven story about two very different people and a land that calls to them both for very different reasons.

Lucyk-Berger has not only created a very enthralling novel but one that is utterly engrossing. She has painted a vivid picture of a hard-up, but incredibly resilient community, in which she has placed her spirited heroine. Katharina is a character that I instantly adored. She is a strong-willed but passionate young woman who finds herself in a challenging situation. She risks everything for a forbidden love and on the face of it loses.

In comparison to the farming community of Reschen and Katharina, is the very sophisticated Italian Captain, Angelo Grimani. Angelo finds himself in the most terrible of situations — no matter what he does, he loses. He is faced with impossible choices. Angelo knows the difference between right and wrong, but sometimes there is a blur between the two. Angelo wants to see Italy become great. He is a very loyal citizen, and yet, he does not want to destroy long forged communities to see that change. At times I did not want to like him, but as Katharina found out, he is very hard to resist. He certainly isn’t the antagonist in this story, far from it. However, he does create problems for himself by trying to pacify everyone. His wife asks him to choose her side of the argument, his father ask the same, and he doesn’t know how to balance both of their desires with his own. It is no wonder that he discovered a moment of peace in Katharina’s arms.

Lucyk-Berger has created a very convincing historical backdrop for her characters and has set them up for what promises to be a must-read series.

The Breach

A great deal has changed in Katharina’s life. She is now a wife and a mother. Her husband, Florian, has never asked who the father of her daughter is. Instead, he has accepted her daughter as his own. No one must know the truth. Ever.

Angelo Grimani has a recurring dream in which a dam, of his making, bursts in the Reschen Valley, fooding everything and taking something very precious away from him. Only, he does not know what it is that has been taken. Not that it matters. It is just a dream. And besides, there are more important things to think about. As Italy becomes more and more enchanted with Benito Mussolini and his promises, Angelo must make a decision. Will he stand with his father and the Partito Nazionale Fascista or will he stand with his wife and the people of Tyroleans.

The Breach is one of the most enthralling historical fiction stories that I have ever read.

Taking up where the No Man’s Land had left off, Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger has penned a book not only vibrant in its narrative but also one that is rich with authentic historical details. Lucyk-Berger’s compelling style pulls you right into the story from the first sentence and does not let go of you until the last full stop.

I did not pause for breath between finishing No Man’s Land and starting The Breach. I was desperate to know what was going to happen next. I am pleased to say I was not disappointed. This book had everything I desired and then some. Lucyk-Berger has lavishly evoked the land that she has set her story in. The rise of fascism in Italy during this era has been painstakingly researched and alongside some very appealing characters, made this book impossible to put down.

Although our wonderful protagonists do not meet again in this book, they are very much in each other’s thoughts. I really felt for Angelo, and although some things he does are deplorable, he is still an incredibly likeable character. He makes mistakes, and yet he learns from them, at least, he seems to. His relationship with Signora Gina Conti added an exciting twist to the story! It certainly complicated his life even more than it already was. 

There are some fascinating supporting characters in this book as there was in No Man's Land. Jutta Hanning and her son stole my heart. She is a single woman who is dedicated to her child and the inn that she runs. When everything, at last, seems to be going the right way for Jutta, fate then deals her a horrible hand. She is a very brave and courageous woman, whom I could not help but admire. Another supporting character that I adored is Katharina’s husband, Florian. He is such a lovely man, Katharina could not wish for a kinder more loving husband. He is incredibly patient with her, and even though he is longing for her to confide in him about the father of her daughter he does not press her for information. However, it is hard for him to compete with someone he doesn’t even know the name of. 

I thought The Breach was really rather marvellous. Wonderfully addictive. Lucyk-Berger is a born storyteller.

The Smuggler of Reschen Pass:
 A Reschen Valley Prequel

Fritz Hanny has friends, money, and a future. Marrying Cecilia, a young woman from the neighbouring village, would make his life complete. However, Cecilia’s father has other plans for his daughter that does not involve Fritz. Fritz is not the type of person to give up, but one drunken night changes the course of his life forever. Now he has a wife who does not love him and a child who is disabled. Life has become a bitter disappointment.

I was really looking forward to finding out the backstory to Jutta. The Smuggler of Reschen Pass: A Reschen Valley Prequel was a magnificent addition to the series.

Lucyk-Berger has a masterful style the pulls you right into the heart of the story. I thought this novella was brilliantly executed. Fritz Hanny is not the most likeable of characters. He does some truly terrible things, especially to Jutta, and I loathed him for that.

Lucyk-Berger has explored the darker side of human nature in this tale, and she has done so with great skill and splendour. This story appalled, impressed, and fascinated in equal measures. It is wonderfully told and impossible to put down.

If you are looking for your next historical fiction series, then do not pass by Reschen Valley: Season 1 - 1920-1924 - Box Set by Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger. This is a fantastic series. A real gem.

I Highly Recommend.

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

Pick up your copy today!
Amazon UK • Amazon US

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger

Chrystyna Lucyk-Berger is an American author living in Austria. Her focus is on historical fiction now. She has been a managing editor for a publishing house, has worked as an editor, and has one several awards for her travel narrative, flash fiction and short stories. She lives with her husband in a “Grizzly Adams” hut in the Alps, just as she’d always dreamed she would when she was a child.

Connect with Chrystyna: Website • Facebook • Twitter.  

Saturday, 16 March 2019

Book Review — Jacob the Trumpeter, by Robert Barclay #CoffeePotBookClub #HistoricalFiction

Jacob the Trumpeter
By Robert Barclay

My name is Jacob Hintze. I may be an innkeeper now, but I will always be a trumpeter. That was my profession for a good portion of my fifty-two years. Fifty-two isn't a bad age to get to when you think of the total shit storm of the Thirty Years' War, especially if you were right in the middle of it as I was, watching your comrades being blown to pieces around you. But sounding signals on the battlefield isn't the half of what I was called to do. You see, you don't see a duke giving a lowly cavalry trumpeter like me the living of an inn on the post road unless he's done something special to earn it. And earn it I did; musician, courier, emissary, spy, those are the things I did for my duke, and more besides. And now it's time to write it all down. When you're under a sentence of death, as I now am, it makes you want to tell your story and I just hope I can get it done before it's too late.

“Legend, painting and song tell one story, but here is mine…”

Death comes to us all. Jacob Hintze never thought he would live to be an old man. He had lived through deprivation, wars and plagues. And he had crossed the sea and visited countries he had never thought to visit. During his lifetime, he had witnessed many changes. Some good, some not so good. Jacob believed that God watched out for him, and he still maintained that outlook. How else could it be explained that despite it all, he was still breathing at the age of 52? However, Jacob’s body was beginning to fail him, just like it had done for his father and his grandfather. It was only a matter of time before his heart stopped beating, which was why he thought seriously about what his eldest son, Michael, had suggested. Perhaps he should write down his memoirs — he certainly had a story to tell. So, Jacob picked up his quill and allowed the memories to come…

Jacob could still remember the first time he fell deeply in love. He had been ten when he heard the majestic metallic sound of a trumpet, and he knew that his life would never be the same again. Alas, there were laws regarding who could play and who could not play the trumpet. Jacob fell into the latter. He was no Duke, Prince or King. His father owned their farm, and although his father had some influence in their little corner of Mecklenburg, it was not enough for his son to play the instrument of his choice. And yet, the trumpet still called to young Jacob. So, under the watchful eye of Stadtpfifer, Jacob dared to learn to play the instrument. From that moment on, Jacob knew that playing the trumpet was his destiny. No matter what anyone said to the contrary.

But his skills with the trumpet did not go unnoticed, and his life was to change fundamentally because he could not resist the pull of the music.

Jacob the Trumpeter, by Robert Barclay is the unforgettable story of a little boy from a farm who against all the odds, became a staff trumpeter for Adolf Friedrich, Duke of Mecklenburg-Schwerin.

There are some books which pull you in and mesmerise you from the opening sentence to the very last word. Jacob the Trumpeter is such a book. Barclay’s compelling narrative set against not only the backdrop of The 30 Year War but also the English Civil War, made this story not only an epic adventure, but also a monumental work of scholarship. Barclay’s historical understanding of this era shined through the pages of this book. His dedication to bringing about an authentic setting for his characters has undoubtedly paid off.

I adored the interpretation of Jacob Hintze. Jacob is a historical character that I have never heard of, and yet, his story was begging to be told. Barclay has chosen to tell Jacob's story in the form of a memoir which worked incredibly well. We are introduced to a very young Jacob who has heard the sound of a trumpet for the first time. This prelude is the start of a love affair with the trumpet which will last the whole of Jacob's life. As Jacob grows and learns how to be a soldier, his enthusiasm for the instrument does not waver. However, this story is so much more than Jacob’s passion for the trumpet. It is a story of war, intrigue, torture, friends, enemies and one true love. There is something for anyone who loves historical fiction between the pages of this remarkable book. 

The story is written with a great deal of energy — there is not one slow moment in this book. Barclay has done an incredible job at keeping the pace engaging, and he has taken great pains to stick to the historical facts of the time, and although there are times when Barclay has used fiction to fill in the gaps, there is an integrity in the writing. As for the historical characters that we come across in this story, Barclay has breathed life back into them, and he seems to have a visceral understanding of human nature. All men, even our heroic Jacob, are flawed, and I think that gives the reader a keen sense of realism.

The book is set in the time of war, and there are some despicable characters that Jacob comes across. But none are quite like Joachim Wadegahte. Wadegahte is a historical character, but as Barclay tells us in his historical notes at the end of the novel, he is very elusive. Although, in the background for much of the story, Wadegahte is a shadowy, looming threat to our intrepid hero. Barclay portrayed a very unlikeable character in Wadegahte. Wadegahte blames the way his life has turned out on Jacob, rather than facing the consequences of his own shortcomings. Jacob’s relationship with Wadegahte is summed up very early on in the novel when Jacob says “…I did not make an enemy of him; it was he who made an enemy of me…”

There is no doubt that Jacob the Trumpeter is an enthralling epic. It is a wonderful story that is very elegantly told.

I Highly Recommend.

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

Pick up your copy of
 Jacob the Trumpeter

#BookReview — Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home, by Michael E Wills #ChildrenBooks #HistoricalFiction #Vikings

Children of the Chieftain:
 Bound for Home
By Michael E Wills

After three years in the service of the emperor of the Greeks, Ahl and his Viking friends have become very rich. Now the crew longs to return home with their wealth, their problem is that the emperor will not permit them to leave. They make a daring plan to escape. The route home is perilous as they navigate uncharted seas. They must overcome robbers, storms and hostile strangers as they seek their way back to the Northlands with the riches which they have earned.


“Man the oars,” shouted Ahl. “We are bound for home.”

The Varangians have been in the service of the emperor of the Greeks for three years, and in that time they have earned a fortune. But the men are restless and they want to take their treasure and return to the colder climate of their homeland. Alas, the Greeks are reluctant to part with their Varangian allies. Ahl, the leader of the Varangian’s, has come up with a way to escape the hold of their Greek masters. It will be dangerous, and if they fail, they may well end up as slaves, but it is a risk worth taking. Nothing was going to stop the Varangians from going home — not even a Greek galley.

From the heat of the Mediterranean sun to the dangers of the open sea, Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home, by Michael E Wills is a wonderfully engaging historical fiction story for children.

Children of the Chieftain: Bound For home begins with a delightful narrative hook, which draws the reader into the world of Ahl and his men. Wills’ keeps the language of the story simple for his younger audience, and he is careful not to overload his readers with large paragraphs of descriptive text. Instead, Wills gives just enough detail to set the scene and lets the narration of his characters drive the story forward. I thought this worked very well, and it is sure to keep the attention of his intended audience.

The journey the characters go on is fraught with danger, especially in the open sea, but Wills does not make the story too frightening. Wills mindfulness of his audience is apparent throughout this book. Wills does touch on the conflicting religious beliefs of the time, but again, he is very sensitive in his approach to this. 

I thought this book was a fabulous introduction to historical fiction for a younger audience. It is just the right length for even the most reluctant readers, but rich enough in the story for those children who like to lose themselves in a good book.

I Highly Recommend.

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

Purchase your copy of
Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home

Michael E. Wills

Michael E. Wills was born on the Isle of Wight, UK, and educated at the Priory Boys School and Carisbrooke Grammar. He trained as a teacher at St Peter’s College, Saltley, Birmingham, before working at a secondary school in Kent for two years.

After re-training to become a teacher of English as a Foreign Language he worked in Sweden for thirteen years. During this period, he wrote several English language teaching books. His teaching career has included time working in rural Sweden, a period that first sparked his now enduring interest in Scandinavian history and culture - an interest that after many years of research, both academic and in the field, led him to write “Finn’s Fate” and the sequel novel, “Three Kings – One Throne”. Continuing in a Viking theme, in June 2015, Michael published, “Children of the Chieftain: Betrayed”, the first of a quartet of Viking adventure stories for young readers. The book was described by the Historical Novel Society reviewer as “An absolutely excellent novel which I could not put down.” The novel was long-listed for the Historical Novel Society, 2016 Indie Prize. The second book in the quartet, “Children of the Chieftain: Banished”, was published in December 2015 followed by the third book,“Children of the Chieftain: Bounty”, which was published in 2017. The fourth and final book in the quartet. “Children of the Chieftain: Bound for Home”, has just been published.

Today, Michael works part-time as Ombudsman for English UK, the national association of English language providers. Though a lot of his spare time is spent with grandchildren, he also has a wide range of interests including researching for future books, writing, playing the guitar, carpentry and electronics. 

You can find out more about Michael and the books he has written by visiting his

Tuesday, 12 March 2019

#BookReview — The Prodigal Laird, by Vanda Vadas #HistoricalRomance #HighlandRomance @Vanda_Vadas

The Prodigal Laird
By Vanda Vadas

His marriage might cease decades of hostilities between two clans, but that doesn't mean he wants it─or his bold new wife who is keeping secrets of her own.
Roderick MacLeod arrives in his native Scottish Highlands to pay brief respects to his recently deceased father─the man Roderick blames for the death of his English mother. But before he can return to England, he is saddled with two responsibilities he never asked for: the title of Laird of Clan MacLeod and an unwanted marriage, by proxy, to the daughter of a rival laird.

Annabel MacDonald thought she had the perfect marriage; her husband's continued absence allowed her independence and the freedom to secretly hide and abet the escape of her fugitive clansmen. When the husband she'd never met shows up, she must convince him to return to England before he uncovers her many secrets, and perhaps her heart.

“Have you gone completely mad? If, and when, I feel the need to marry, I’ll pick the lass. Not be shackled to one of my father’s choosing. I’ll wager the poor woman had no say in the matter either.”

Roderick MacLeod has never forgiven his father. Even now, standing at his father’s grave, all Roderick feels is anger. Roderick wished it wasn’t so, but Malcolm MacLeod had always been known for his warring ways. If his father had just for one moment stopped and thought before he reached for his weapons then Roderick's mother would still be alive.

Roderick feels nothing but bitter memories at his childhood home of Castle Finvreck. The sooner Roderick returns to England, the better. However, first, he must pass on his inherited Lairdship to someone who actually wanted it. 

Unfortunately, his father has played a cruel last hand — a hand that would tie Roderick to this cursed kingdom forever. For in his absence, Roderick learns that he is married, on his father’s command, to a woman from the rival MacDonald clan. Roderick knows that marriage by proxy is not legal, and he intends to inform his so-called bride at the same time as he plans to tell his people to look for another man to lead them. Nothing will stop him from leaving Scotland for England. He had not, however, countered on Annabel MacDonald, his bride. She wasn’t what he expected, and against his better judgement, he finds himself inexplicitly drawn towards her. 

Annabel had no desire to see her husband. She was happy with the way things were. A husband would only complicate her already overcomplicated life, for Annabel is aiding and abetting fugitive clansmen, who fought at Culloden, escape an English unmerciful execution. Annabel hopes Roderick's visit will be a fleeting one.

However, Roderick makes Annabel feel things that she has never felt before. She is torn between wanting Roderick to fall in love with her and saving the lives of those who had fought at Culloden. If only she could tell Roderick the truth about what she was doing. If only he would understand…

Set in the majestic beauty of the North-Western Highlands of Scotland, The Prodigal Laird by Vanda Vadas is the utterly captivating and heartwarming love story between a reluctant Laird and a woman who would be his wife.

I was immediately drawn into the world of Roderick and the MacLeod clan. Vadas has penned a compelling love story set against the backdrop of Jacobite defeat. The Prodigal Laird is set a year after the Battle of Culloden when the after-effects of the fray was still being felt throughout the Highlands. The English government wanted not only to punish those who had fought with Bonnie Prince Charlie, but they also wanted to prevent any further rebellions. Those who fought against the English now found their lands, and in many cases, their lives forfeited to the Crown. However, that was not all, for the English government wanted to see an end to the clan system and everything it stood for. Vadas paints a vivid portrait of the hardship and struggles faced by those who lived in the Highlands during this time. Although the desperate plight of those who had been involved in the rebellion as they tried to flee to France before the English soldiers caught up with them is a subplot to this beautiful romance, Vadas still managed to portray the utter despair and fear that these loyal Highlanders faced. The plight of young Thomas was particularly distressing and demonstrated why Vadas’ heroine, Annabel, felt so moved to help her people escape from so-called English justice.

Vadas has created a highly appealing protagonist in Annabel. I absolutely adored her. Annabel is incredibly courageous, but also wonderfully feminine. She is ready to be fallen in love with. Her quick wit and fiery spirit are a perfect match for the MacLeod’s prodigal Laird. Likewise, I thought Roderick was very well crafted, and as with all good romances, he is a character that is easy to fall for.

The chemistry between Roderick and Annabel is a slow simmering seductive build, and like all great romances, that first kiss was incredibly evocative. But, there is more to their relationship than sexual tension and attraction. Roderick and Annabel are well matched in both mind and spirit, which gives this love story creditability.

The antagonist of this tale changes as the story progresses. At first, it seems that the antagonist is Roderick’s father, for he is the reason Roderick finds himself back in Scotland in the first place, and then it seems to be Annabel’s father. However, this all changes when Captain Hubert Stoke comes on the scene. Stoke is a cruel and dangerous man, who is determined to make a name for himself at the Highlanders expense. Vadas has an intuitive understanding of what makes a good villain! I loathed Stokes. He is just awful, but then I should imagine that is what Vadas intended for her readers to feel all along.

The Prodigal Laird is a tautly gripping romance which is absolutely impossible to put down once started. It is engaging, engrossing, enthralling and irresistible. When Historical Romance is written like this, there is no such thing as too many pages.

I Highly Recommend.

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

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Vanda Vadas

Before residing in Australia, Vanda's birthplace and early childhood years were spent in Papua New Guinea. At the age of eleven, a holiday in England sparked an interest in the days of old. Castles, ruins, and discovering Jane Austen novels inspired a life-long interest in all things historical, a passion that later kick-started Vanda's desire to write historical fiction. Subsequent travels to faraway places have served to create fictitious characters and dramas set against authentic and geographical backdrops. The Gold Coast in Queensland is home to Vanda and her husband, where they enjoy walks along world-renowned beaches or a quiet getaway to the lush hills of the Hinterland.

Connect and engage with Vanda: Website  • Facebook • Twitter.

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 First 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.