Secret Mission to Melbourne: November 1941

Sky Phillips, Author
Sky Phillips, Author Sunflower University Press $18.95 (296p) ISBN 978-0-89745-148-2
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A month before Pearl Harbor, Gen. Lewis Brereton of the U.S. Army Air Force undertook a top-secret mission to Australia in order to coordinate planning against an imminent Japanese attack. Add to the actual general's party a fictional hot-shot fighter pilot, Jim Davis, and one has a potentially slam-bang story of intrigue and action. Unfortunately, first novelist Phillips instead produces only disconnected vignettes. The ``secret mission'' rapidly fades into the story's background as Davis bounces around Australia more or less at random, stopping briefly at Rabaul and Port Moresby. Now and then he meets an historical figure, such as Cmdr. Eric Feldt, founder of the Coastwatchers, but his travels never cohere into a dramatic story. Phillips does offer accurate and skillfully executed sketches of daily life in an Australia still relatively untouched by war or immigration, but these do not redeem what amounts to a travelogue masquerading as an adventure novel. (Nov.)
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