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13 December 2015

Peter Watt: Beneath a Rising Sun: The Frontier Series 9

Wallerie still haunts the Macintoshes and the Duffys
This is another great episode from Peter Watt, one of Australia's top storytellers, in the excellent long-running family saga/feud between the Macintoshes and the Duffys. The feud started in the 1860's (see Cry of the Curlew) when David Macintosh and his men kill most of the Darambal tribe on Glen View Station in northern Queensland. While Aboriginal elder Wallerie has passed on, his spirit still follows the feud and protects and/or haunts the current protagonists.

Peter Watt does his best to tell some of the earlier back stories, but this is a very complex family saga so, even for those like me who have read the full series, the family tree of both families is an essential starting point.

Beneath a Rising Sun is set in a single year, 1943, when Australia was at war with Japan and under threat of an invasion. The Duffy's are in action around the globe and at home. Sergeant Jessica Duffy works in MacArthur’s Brisbane headquarters and with the help of Donald Macintosh, (one of the good ones in that family) she is also secretly reporting on the Americans to the Australian Prime Minister. Tom Duffy is patrolling Northern Australia and nearly loses his life from a snakebite. Captain James Duffy from the American side of the family is a Marines fighter ace, taken out of active duty on stress leave to sell War Bonds in LA and go hobnobbing with Hollywood stars. Sean Duffy is still a top Sydney lawyer, but his life is frequently in danger of his life from the evil side of the Macintosh family.

Major David Macintosh, another good one, has fought battles around the world but has to deal with his devious cousin Sarah, with whom he had a brief fling with in the previous book. She battles with her cousin Donald for ultimate control of the company. Her father George Macintosh, a real nasty, is in the final stages of syphilis. Both George and Sarah will do anything including arranging murders to advance their causes.

As always the spirit of the mythical elderly Aboriginal warrior Wallarie still haunts the family members, protecting some and warning others of danger.

Despite the complexities of the family plot, Peter Watt brings it all together pretty seamlessly in another episode of this excellent Australian historical saga. This time, the setting was Australia at war in the Pacific. What surprised me was that the book only covers one year of the war, so there are many more episodes to come. That is something to look forward to at the end of next year.

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