In 1943 on Bougainville Island, New Guinea, a Japanese officer beheads Hugh Rand, an Australian spy — a coast watcher. The spectators include villagers he terrorised as his mind frayed under the stress of pursuit by soldiers and their hounds.
Rand’s influence transcends his death. For decades he plagues characters who strive to cope with him and one another in New Guinea, the Gilbert Islands, Australia and Japan. Who misperceives? Lies? Self-destructs? Suffers? Loves? The layers unfold as the author entices us through cultural, historical and intellectual curtains, deep into minds and relationships disturbed by the Pacific war and Rand’s legacy.
‘After an incredible opening and a brutal account from WWII New Guinea, I found myself on a complex journey through the Pacific Islands, Australia and Japan that I did not want to stop. An absolutely cracking read.’ Tim Page, author and celebrated Vietnam War photographer
‘Death of a Coast Watcher is a gripping and ambitious novel that ranges across time and space, exploring the distant ramifications of a seemingly minor act of violence on a remote island during WWII. Deeply atmospheric and with a firm command of local cultures, it plays with the misunderstandings that form part of all human relationships and lays them bare as key to the human condition itself. By creating imaginative worlds pictured through different voices, it resonates with narrative power and is beautifully written and orchestrated with a firm authorial hand. Not to be missed!’ Nigel Barley, author
About the author
Australian author Anthony English was formerly a university lecturer in international management and prior to that a civil servant and development project manager, working in Papua New Guinea, Kiribati, Australia, the Philippines, Indonesia, Sri Lanka and New Zealand. Previous publications include journalism and academic articles, and his non-fiction book Tug of War: The Tension Concept and the Art of International Negotiation (2010) analyses international negotiation in hostage release, diplomacy, trade and business. Death of a Coast Watcher is his first long work of fiction