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A Military Story of Adventure in the Far East

Updated on September 10, 2014

A Soldier's Story

This is a military adventure story set in the Far East. Harry Weston sincerely thought that he had been released from military service for good. He was repatriated in New Zealand where he met a beautiful Kiwi girl and was happy with his lot in life. Then tragedy struck and his girlfriend was killed in a car crash under mysterious circumstances. She was not the only one killed, there was another man in the car who Harry knew nothing of and he got no explanation as to why she was with him or who he was .

Alone and in a state of anguish, Harry tries to contact his girlfriend's family only to be fiercely rejected and told to stay away. Her brother makes it very clear that they want nothing more to do with him and were not going to let him get involved with the funeral. Harry was pretty devastated by the situation and in his misery he turns to alcohol to ease the pain.

It was during one drunken night of oblivion that he manages to get himself shanghaied by a couple of guys who looked very much like they would be more comfortable in military uniform. They gate crashed his party acting like old mates and before he knew what was happening he found himself standing in front of an army captain, that he vaguely recognises from the past, and a couple of older guys in suits on his shoulder.

Harry starts to sober up quickly when the picture starts to come together, the captain reminds him of an incident he was involved in and the death of a psychopathic Australian a few years earlier. An incident Harry would have preferred not to be reminded of, especially as it was accompanied by a clear message, cooperate or you might just be facing a murder charge.

Sucked into a madcap scheme which saw him forced back into military service,more military training and a mission in Hong Kong where he was required to neutralize a journalist Bob Tan. But this was no ordinary journalist, he was believed to have the ear of important people, people that could take New Zealand into the spiralling Vietnam conflict. Tan was also ex-military, an American soldier that was a prisoner of war in Korea and who had been brainwashed while he was held captive. No one knew what was motivating Tan or whether he even knew himself, a potentially loose cannon, and damaged goods from an earlier military conflict.

Harry arrived in Hong Kong only to be greeted by hostile colonial officials and Chinese Triads. The other big problem was that he then received the news that Kiwi troops were already committed to Vietnam. His mission had failed before he even got his feet on the ground.

With the news that New Zealand had joined the Vietnam conflict, it was pretty clear that Harry's time as a military spy would be short lived. But it was long enough for him to get a feel of life as an expat and to make a new acquaintance in the form of Mei-ling, a Chinese/Australian girl who would prove to be a partial cure for the pain he was still feeling as a result of the loss of his Kiwi girlfriend. A partial cure because Me-ling had her own problems and things quickly turn bad when she has to flee to Taiwan to escape the Hong Kong authorities; leaving at least one dead body behind.

This Military Adventure Left a Little to be Desired

Harry Weston is trying to lose his departed Moana in the bottom of successive beer glasses when he finds himself shanghaied and blackmailed into a hare-brained scheme to keep his country out of the escalating conflict in Vietnam.

Military Adventure in the Far East
Military Adventure in the Far East

A Soldier's Story of Expat Living

Harry had learned during his time in Hong Kong that he liked living the life of an expat, especially as it had turned out to be en extended holiday courtesy of government funding. So when he was sent back to New Zealand as a civilian he found it hard to settle.

Eventually he finds a job working with kids as an expat living in Papua New Guinea, a new country and a new beginning. Little did he know how much his past military experience and brief period as an espionage agent would need to be called upon. Working as teacher in New Guinea as it turns out was more like a military adventure than some of the time he actually spent in the services as a soldier.

The jungles of New Guinea turn out to be a pretty dangerous place to be, littered with the remnants of the Pacific war, explosives, weapons that have never been made safe and the fact that these remnants are considered to be 'booty' by the local residents, mainly the kids. Some of the kids Harry teaches go hunting for military refuse so they can report their whereabouts or drag them back to the local authorities for a reward. The latter option not always warmly received by adults worried that these things may just blow up in their faces.

The political climate of the country is also pretty explosive, New Guinea is preparing for independence and some very nasty characters have moved in to the territory. They are out to get what they can from a country viewed as ripe for the picking, no matter what the cost to the people that live there, especially those that try and stand in their way. They are the flotsam and jetsam from the war in Europe and the PAcific regions - refugees and protagonists - ex-pats from the world over; all people drawn by an isolated frontier and a country that is ready for exploitation.

Harry got more than hi fair share of military adventure as a soldier and, unexpectedly, a lot more living as an expat in a violent world. As years advance your life values change and Harry was no exception, he began to see the futility of war and of military intervention. When he finally meets Dawn, a girl that he thinks he can spend the rest of his life with, they settle down together and as the years pass, this old soldier’s story seems set to have a happy ending, but there are a few more final twists and turns with nasty people that have to be dealt with first.

No! You weren't there! You didn't see hordes of Chinese troops packed into massed infantry attacks.

Cages of Smoke - A Soldiers Story of Military Adventure and Expat Living in the Far East

Harry Weston is the central character in Markham Turner's latest novel 'Cages of Smoke'. An ex-soldier who is unlucky in love and even unluckier when it comes to attracting unwanted attention. Harry find himself acting as a reluctant hero in all sorts of situations that he would have preferred not to be involved in. Particularly when he is forced back into service and sent on an espionage mission to Hong Kong.

Life is never easy for Harry Weston and after a studded life in the military life as an expat in Papua New Guinea should have been a doddle. Unfortunately for Harry, nothing is ever straight forward.

Meet the Author - Markham Turner

Military Action in the Far East
Military Action in the Far East

Profile of a Kiwi Author

Having enlisted in 1959, Markham was an ex-Kiwi soldier that did military duty in Malaya at the time of the Malayan Emergency and took part in the celebratory march through Kuala Lumpur when the 'Emergency' came to an end.

He was born in 1932 and after initially living in Tauranga the family moved to Maungawhai, north of Auckland followed by a final move to Auckland. The final move prompted by his father's need for surgery to deal with wounds he sustained many years earlier in Gallipoli during World War 1

Markham left school in 1947 and indentured as a cabinet making apprentice. He later worked in carpentry and furniture making in both New Zealand and Australia.

Under the jurisdiction of his wife, Louise and their poodle Princess Xena, he lives on Waiheke Island, 30 minutes from Auckland writes in between poodle duties, wine and beer making and a little carving, Markham and Louise pursue their joint interest in travels to exotic destinations where he draws on the experiences to help fuel his novel writing.

Video Review of Cages of Smoke

Canabalism in Papua New Guinea

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    • gottaloveit2 profile image


      6 years ago

      Looks like an excellent read.


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