Conflict On The Yangtze by Greg Kater
Beyond the end of the Second World War, after the Japanese surrender, the fighting never ceased in China …
This is the fourth historical novel in the Warramunga series by Greg Kater. The events take place during 1946 when former army officer, Jamie Munro, and educated half-aborigine, Jack “Jacko” O’Brien, who head the Commonwealth Investigation Service in Darwin, are asked by Colonel John Cook, a senior commanding officer of MI6, to go to China and assist in the investigation of a drug cartel who are believed responsible for killing one of his operatives along the Yangtze River.
During the recent war, Jamie and Jacko had worked in intelligence operations with Colonel Cook during the desert campaign in North Africa, as the Afrika Corps threatened Egypt, and later in South East Asia in the aftermath of war.
The pair arrive in Shanghai via Manila in the aftermath of the Japanese occupation with Harry Williams, chief of the US intelligence agency, Office of Strategic Services (OSS), in the Philippines. They had worked with Harry previously in the Philippines on a case involving child smuggling (The Warramunga’s Aftermath of War). They are met at Shanghai’s Bund Docks by Johnny and Lee Drake, a half-Chinese MI6 operative who had lived in Shanghai, posing as a tea merchant, throughout the war. Jamie and Jacko learn that the current state of affairs in China is very complicated. They not only have to contend with the drug cartel but also with gangs, warlords and corrupt personages of influence. They are told the opium produced by the drug cartel is shipped to the Philippines for treatment and from there to the USA and Australia. To reach the centre of the opium operations it is necessary to travel hundreds of miles in a motorised junk up the Yangtze River where hostile, trigger-happy gangs and groups inhabit the riverbanks.
5 Star Review: Author Greg Kater takes this historical fiction beyond his ‘Warramunga’ trilogy, to post WWII, as the fighting continues between the Kuomintang Government, the communists, warlords and various gangs along the Yangtze River in China.
I found it interesting that Australian based Author Greg Kater brings his first hand experiences, education, and knowledge of the region into his story, since his career retirement from the international resources industry where he visited China many times. Who better to tell us about the impact of WWII on China and the infighting between fractions trying to hold on to their influence and power in the region?
Author Greg Kater has a unique story telling style that paints a vivid picture while he keeps the story moving along with strong, relatable characters using great dialog that draws the reader into the humanity of the situation. Let me share this quote with you from Chapter Twelve:
“It was raining heavily again when Henri, Carna and Sarah were saying their farewells to Angelo and his family at Hernani. ‘It is a good thing if we leave now, n’est-ce pas?’ said Henri to Angelo. ‘I can’t thank you enough for your kindness. It is my intention to set up a sawmill here when there are fewer bad men around. I will employ many local people.’ Carna translated Henri’s words and then Angelo’s response. ‘No, no. It is me to thank you, sir,’ responded Angelo. ‘Again, I am sorry for being responsible for putting you and Miss Carna in such danger.’ ‘Non, non. Think nothing of it,’ protested Henri. Carna explained to Angelo that they should leave before danger came down the road looking for them. She said that if anyone asked him or Almado, to say they had never met them. ‘Diri! No, never met you,’ repeated Angelo, winking. With a last wave, Jacinto, Henri, Carna and Sarah ran out through the rain into the vehicle and were soon slipping, sliding, and bumping down the road to Giporlos where they were sure that Manny Alvarez and his boat, with Monique and Bella aboard, would be waiting. And waiting they were. Monique was so worried that she had left the boat and was pacing up and down in the rain. They were supposed to have returned long before now. She wanted to walk up the road to look for them, but realised it was much too far. She pictured her father and the others lying injured beside the crashed jeep with no one to help them. Or worse, they had been captured by Japanese soldiers who didn’t know the war was over. She had heard stories that many such units remained in the forests of the Philippines. Oh Jacko, you are so far away when we need you. She tried to stop thinking about all the other dreadful things that might have overtaken her father and friends. Bella was sitting under cover in the boat silently sobbing, while Manny was plying her with cups of coffee and telling her that Samar was a safe place now the war had ended. The only sounds were the rain falling, the chirping of birds in the trees and unidentifiable noises of wildlife, until everyone was alerted by the distant groans from the north of a labouring motor drawing closer.”
Whether you are a history buff or not, Conflict On The Yangtze is an interesting read with historical significance. The author wisely wrote each of his books as stand-alone, so his readers can enjoy each book in the order and pace the reader chooses. I recommend you read Conflict On The Yangtze and then go back and read The Warramunga’s War, The Warramunga’s Aftermath Of War, and Skills Of The Warramunga by Greg Kater. 5 Stars. Review by Theodocia McLean.
Paperback: 270 Pages
Publisher: Zeus Publications (March 4, 2019)
Genre: Crime Thrillers, War Fiction
Message From The Author: “I recently retired and live from a 55-year international career in the resource industry.
The Warramunga’s War is my first work of historical fiction. 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 my father, who fought in the Middle East, and partly from my own experiences in northern Australia where I worked extensively throughout the NT and Kimberley.
The Warramunga’s War is the first of a trilogy.”
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