So you're in the bookshop and you've found an interesting looking book. Flick through the pages, read a few extracts.
“Remember Oskar Hart, the one you tapped in the belly?” A curt nod made the captain hurry on. “Well, somehow he got his neck tangled in a silk cord last night. Tight. Strangled himself, he did. Not only that, but then he took off his trousers, tied wire round his ankles and hung himself upside down from a tree, right near the spot where young Lu was raped. Quite an effort for a dead man.”
“Leo,” breathed Harry.
“I'd say so. But that's not all. He'd been cut. Seriously cut. Just a big bloody mess.”
“Justice, Chinese style. Bloody wonderful,” muttered Harry. The two men upended their glasses in salute to Leo.
“No, Harry, remember what I told you last time. This is payback, New Guinea style.”
So began the payback feud. A feud that would embroil two families and several cultures over three decades.
While payback spreads in the small community of New Guinea , on a larger canvas the Gods are wildly brushing red, black, violent orange, painting a vast and terrifying picture. The world looks fearfully into the Inferno. In Europe , the Gods paint a man, a small man, an orator who galvanizes a nation, and catapults the world into unprecedented conflagration. In Asia, the Gods draw a populous nation bursting out of its tiny islands, intent on establishing its own Co-Prosperity Sphere, on driving out the European colonialists, on establishing its mastery of the western Pacific.,
In the horror that follows, the family payback feud in New Guinea reaches its climax, as war comes to Kavieng.
And becomes personal.
“Now, I'm not a speaker. I'm a New Ireland planter, nothing more, nothing less. England sent my great-grandfather to a penal colony halfway round the world, because he stole some bread. Bread to feed his family. They sent him out in irons, on poor rations, under conditions worse than the people here live under today. It wasn't the bread, that was the excuse. It didn't take much of an excuse for an Irishman to get transported. Like many others, not only Irish, he was spurned by England .
“It wasn't until a dozen or more years ago that Australia finally broke from the English and became a free and separate nation. I for one have no loyalty to that red, white and blue, that Union Jack you have on the wall behind you. It's not my flag. It's the flag of a country that used my family and many others to increase its wealth. It sucked our finest men out to fight a war in the Sudan , then one in New Zealand , then against the Dutch in South Africa . Even took our whole navy to fight the poor bloody Chinese. They weren't our fights. They weren't even wars for honour, or for defence of our homeland. They were all about England 's wealth and power.
“I reject that country and I reject its flag. My loyalty is to Australia and to this country, New Guinea , where I live and will live, and where two of my sons were born.”
“Don't you get tangled up in revenge. No-one ever wins.”
Chapter Sixty Two
They were eating a late breakfast on deck, listening to the radio. Suddenly Lewis leapt to his feet and hit the volume control. They listened as the radio announced that the American base at Pearl Harbour had been attacked by a powerful Japanese force. The American Pacific fleet was crippled, many ships sent to the bottom. Thousands, both servicemen and civilians, were killed in the surprise raid by carrier-borne aircraft.
“Holy bejesus! Listen to that,” whispered Tremorne. He couldn't believe what he'd heard. No state of war exists, he thought, the bastards sucker-punched us without warning. “Guys, we gotta get going. Now. Let's grab some supplies and hit the road. Better address that letter to the Queensland ranch, Sarah. New Guinea 's about to go under.”
They took the dinghy ashore, picked up fresh supplies and organized to go alongside for water and fuel. Sarah found somewhere to post her letter, while Luke and her father organized extra dums of diesel fuel to stack on deck. A lot of sometimes windless ocean lay ahead of them.
“Nearly four thousand miles to go,” said Tremorne as the islands faded into the sea haze behind them. “And no time to waste.”