I first learned of Justin Sheedy via my wife who had heard the name mentioned on her favorite radio show with Alan Jones on 2GB three years ago. Knowing my passion for anything relating to history and in particular World War II since the publication of my own non-fiction book “Smithy’s War” in 2005 and then as an e-book in 2012, she suggested I obtain a copy of “Ghosts of the Empire”.
I must admit that when I read this I was blown away by not only the story, but in the way Justin Sheedy related the tale. His vivid descriptions of the aerial sequences as put in the thoughts and words of the pilots transported the reader [me] in the cockpit with them.
I loved the book so much I had to get the prequel.
I was honored to meet Justin at Dymocks Bookstore in George Street, Sydney where he graciously signed a copy of “Nor the Years Condemn”. [I also bought that day his book “Goodbye Crackernight” which was a lovely insight to times in Australia now long gone].
Anyway as it turned out “Nor the Years Condemn” was as good as “Ghosts of the Empire”, so when I heard that Justin was releasing the third book in his trilogy “No Greater Love” I knew this too had to be bought.
As much as I would have loved to have purchased a copy from him in Sydney in order to get it signed, it was not to be as since March 2016 I have been residing in the south of France. Fortunately I was able to obtain it on Amazon.
The moment I started reading it I knew I was going to be unable to put it down; and so it was just as I thought. I found myself in the kitchen that first night of reading it with the book in one hand, and a wooden spoon in the other stirring my dinner.
My family is of Maltese origin and since an early age we were always taken to the island on summer holidays to visit family and friends. The thing one noticed the most during the 1950’s and 1960’s was how much evidence there still was of the bomb damage that had occurred on the island during World War II.
Malta is a very small island. At 260 square kilometers it is smaller than London that covers an area of 1,572 square kilometers. Yet as much as people remember the Blitz that devastated London, it was nothing compared to the pounding that the people of Malta received from June 1940 to November 1942 by Italian and German aircraft flying out from their bases in Sicily only 60 miles away.
“No Greater Love” takes you on a journey back in time to the small island of Malta beginning in April 1942. From the moment you turn the first few pages you are drawn into a story that so absorbs your very being that you can immediately feel an empathy with the pilots, ground crew, and the very populace who were being tormented by the continuous bombing raids by enemy aircraft. Germany’s goal was to destroy the populations resolve and forcing them to surrender or by letting them starve to death by ensuring all convoys transporting fuel and food were sunk before they reached the island.
Justin Sheedy’s thorough research is transposed onto the novel’s pages as he carefully exposes the hardship the people of Malta went through. It is also astounding to read that with so little food available how the pilots and ground personnel were able to continue the fight against the Axis forces.
“No Greater Love” is a testament to those few pilots who risked their lives to ensure that the generations to follow them into the future would not have to live under the rule of tyranny.
From Malta our hero, Colin Stone is transferred to North Africa and finally to England. Although his journey is fraught with danger, he still manages to put a smile on your face with his good humor.
As for the end, it caught me by surprise, and it left me feeling content, despite the small tear in my eye.
I’m sure Justin won’t mind me attaching the link to his website here, https://crackernight.com/
If you haven’t read any of his books, then start with “Nor the Years Condemn” before reading “Ghosts of the Empire” and “No Greater Love”. I assure you it will be an experience worth having.
RLB – Tomewriter