I received an ARC of this novel through https://www.netgalley.com in return for a fair and honest review. I categorize this novel as ‘R’ because it contains scenes of violence, mature language, and mature situations. Much of the story is set in Australia, but some of it takes place elsewhere in Asia. The story spans from 1942 to the end of the war. There are three primary characters. Ken Hazel of the Australian Army, his wife Ann, and Japanese soldier Hito Egami.
Early in 1942, Hazel travels with the Australian Army to Singapore. They are there to help defend the island. Shortly after he arrives the Japanese take the island and he becomes a POW. He is held there for months before being shipped to Japan to work as a slave laborer.
The Australian Army captured Egami and he was held in a POW camp in Australia. He escapes from the camp and wanders the desolate bush. Ann Hazel and her son come upon Egami and they hide him in their home for a while. She begins to fear their efforts are starting to unravel. At about the same time she comes up with a crazy and dangerous scheme to both get Egami home and her husband back.
Egami had received letters from home while a POW. Ann had received letters from her husband. From those Ann learns that Egami’s brother is a guard at the camp where her husband is being held. A nurse shortage in Guam is the final catalyst for her plan. She volunteers and heads for Guam with Egami in tow disguised as a burn patient. The first leg of the trip is dangerous enough. They must make their way by ship to Guam. Once there she has to find a way for Egami to stow away on a plane headed to Japan. The journey is filled with one peril after another. She is not sure if they will survive the trip let alone be able to maintain the charade.
If this all isn’t enough, after so many months living close to Ann, Egami has begun to develop feelings for her. While she still loves her husband, she has become fond of Egami as well. With the outrageous course they are pursuing, she may lose both of them.
I thought that the 6+ hours I spent reading this 306-page thriller were interesting. While the plot was a bit outlandish, that is not that unusual for a thriller. Some details included in the story though are simply wrong. For instance, in Chapter 25 the POWs in Japan make a ‘tiny transistor radio’ to listen to war news. While POWs were sometimes able to make a radio, it couldn’t have been a transistor radio. The first working transistor was not made until 1947. I find the cover art a little odd. The plane looks vaguely like a B-29, which does factor into the plot. I have no idea though what the image waving his arms means. I give this novel a 3.4 (Rounded down to a 3) out of 5.
My book reviews are also published on Goodreads (https://www.goodreads.com/user/show/31181778-john-purvis).
If you have an interest in the WWII era of history, you may find these three pages of interest.
- The “World War II Resources” page is a constantly growing collection of more than 540 links to museums, memorials, websites, Facebook pages, Twitter feeds, and other sources with information on the World War II era in history.
- The “World War II Timeline” page expands almost daily and shows events leading up to WWII, as well as during the war. Events are broken down into the Pacific and European Theaters by date.
- The About WWII page is a collection of links to posts that I have made over the years that are relevant to WWII.