When the Moon Was Blood
by Eben Beukes
Pen Culture Solutions

"‘War is a dirty game, a criminal enterprise, my dear Schroeder,’ the Brigadier said handing the manila file to a thoughtful looking Birkin, ‘sometimes it’s best to fight it with criminals…’"

In this historical military novel, it is 1942, and Australia is under threat of being taken over by the Japanese during World War II. The plot primarily follows Mick Dawber and his special forces team as they maneuver not only the battlefield but also the politics and betrayal that come with war. With their lives hanging in the balance as they escape a Japanese ambush to the "safety" of Milne Bay, they find that there is little time for rest or safety even when they arrive at the base. A spy known as The Bird has infiltrated Milne Bay, the Australian Army's military HQ. In a plot to help uncover the identity of the spy, Dawber and his team are sent on a mission to mislead the Japanese with false information. But can they trust each other, their mission, and the people who sent them on it?

With detailed and clean writing, the plot unfolds relatively smoothly. Each chapter is distinct and filled with intent. Beukes also does an incredible job of creating the atmosphere of this time in history, making his experience living in Australia and any research he may have done evident in the narrative. However, because the story is so heavily plot and action-focused, it can sometimes be difficult to connect to any of the characters. This is likely due to the wide array of characters followed from chapter to chapter. Nonetheless, this novel is a quick read and will undoubtedly appeal to fans of political and military thrillers.

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