NO GREATER LOVE FOR “NO GREATER LOVE”
Review by Andrew Landström, Sweden
A few years ago I bought “Nor The Years Condemn” more or less out of chance. I got strapped in and taken on a journey almost to the point where when I put down the book I would be wearing a sheepskin leather jacket, a mae-west and a pilot helmet. I have since read all three in the World War II trilogy. Sheedy’s latest , “No Greater Love” brings to light the struggle in the Mediterranean theatre, through to Africa and back to Europe… from dust to sand to a drizzled Britain, from love to passion to sorrow. I find myself smelling the smells of cordite, engine oil, fuel every time Stone takes off. I share the fear for the when strafing Stukas swoop from above. My heart breaks when there are hearts broken. I have compassion for friends and lovers lost. I laugh out loud when the underlying humour erupts in cascades of warmth, I can feel the dust of Malta in my throat, the sand of the desert between my teeth and the raw chill of dark cold winter nights in Britain. “No Greater Love” is just that: action, passion, love and intrigue weaved together with knowledge, experience and honour for those who made the greatest sacrifice to keep the world free. I’ve read it, and I will read it again.
A RIPPING AUSTRALIAN YARN
Review by I.G. Blackwell, Australia
I have been meaning to write a formal review of “No Greater Love” ever since I read it and messaged Justin to say how fantastic it was. I happened upon both book and author by chance at last year’s Bundaberg Writefest where guest author Justin Sheedy was presenting a very well-received workshop. As an avid warbirds and history buff, I could not resist purchasing his novel, because it had a picture of a Spitfire on the cover. So I took it home and due to a very long “to do” list of writing, this gem of a novel unfortunately gathered dust for four months. The night I started reading it for a few pages of bedtime relaxation, I did not put it down until 2:00am. I finished it in two further marathon sessions. The story of Aussie pilot and larrikin Colin Stone was enthralling, historically authentic and altogether a real “page-turner”. As typical of the times, (without giving too much away) “Stoney” serves in various theatres of war, from the Mediterranean to North Africa to England and Europe in a number of fighter aircraft and with a variety of air and land and sea based escapades which will have the reader completely engrossed. The author convincingly portrays the unending tragedy of armed conflict as well as the more light-hearted stories and transient but enduring friendships of war. To this effect he draws a plethora of interesting and complex characters that will have the reader strongly identifying with their lives, whether they be heroes, villains, scientists changing the course of the war or, refreshingly, some very strong and influential female characters – and with a few actual, real historical characters thrown in to boot. I strongly recommend this book as an essential read for anyone who enjoys a well written and researched adventure story and a gripping Aussie yarn. Well done Justin. I can’t wait to read the next one.
MASTER STORY TELLER – JUSTIN SHEEDY
Review by Author Robert LJ Borg A.K.A. Louise Roberts
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. 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.
“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 population’s resolve so 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. If you haven’t read any of Sheedy’s 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.
MORE, MORE, MORE!
Review by Marc H. Stevens, Ontario, Canada
Australian novelist Justin Sheedy’s latest book, “No Greater Love”, has just crossed my desk. Finally. Having read the first two books of the trilogy (“Nor The Years Condemn” and “Ghosts Of The Empire”), I can honestly say that I was already hooked on Justin’s smooth writing style, and was eagerly awaiting his latest. And this newest work fits right in, using similar characters, with even a bit of cross-pollination between the stories. Yes, Sheedy’s books introduce you to everyday men, mainly from poor, hard, working-class Australian neighbourhoods. But what is special about these people (hardly men, really, as the eldest of them is barely 23 years old) is that they belong in non-fiction books like Tom Brokaw’s chef d’oeuvre “The Greatest Generation”. They are truly willing to give their all, their todays, to ensure everyone else’s tomorrows. Once again, the depth of research is evident to students of history. The names have been changed, but not by much. Senior Air Force commanders, good and bad, show up in several scenes, and we cheer for “Dowling” and “Sparx”, while booing “Lee-Halloran” and “Shilo Burgess”.
Sheedy’s intricate plots weave their way through battlefields in Europe and North Africa, and end up straight into your guts, ripping them to shreds. As I have written before, Sheedy’s characters become family; we want them to thrive amidst the horrors of war. And yet, knowing in advance that the odds are stacked to impossible heights against them, they pull through, time and time again. Until they don’t. And we cry for them. While becoming well-known in his native land, Justin Sheedy’s work deserves much wider and greater recognition than it has yet received. His finely-crafted sentences remind the reader of an Old Master’s canvas. His delicate word-strokes add to the beauty of simple scenes, like an Italian prisoner-of-war cooking a plate of spaghetti for his erstwhile Australian captor, whom he grows to love like a brother. That immense talent, along with the author’s ability to invest the reader emotionally, deeply into his stories, means that this book, and in fact all of Sheedy’s work, should be studied in schools today. Not just as an excellent source of history (which they are), but as beautiful creative writing. In short, this book is Justin Sheedy’s own finest hour, and it leaves us begging, “More, more more!”
ANOTHER EPIC STORY – 5 STARS AT AMAZON UK
Review by Dee Boneham, United Kingdom
Justin has continued with his excellent storytelling in this third novel of the trio. From Australia to Malta to North Africa to Europe this sweeping story has his main character fighting in the air. There are some reappearances from previous characters which is great to see and some lovely sympathetic enemy characters. I hope some TV director takes up these books and makes them into films/mini series.
A SUPERB READ FROM COVER TO COVER
5 Star Amazon UK Review by Mark Bentley, United Kingdom
With “No Greater Love”, Part 3 in Justin Sheedy’s World War II trilogy, the author has done it yet again: No time wasted introducing the main character; you feel as if you know him and know him well very quickly. In his usual writing style Sheedy manages some jumping around to other events happening at the same time and it works so very well indeed. I found the way true World War II events have been written into the story to be brilliant and enjoyed reading about them – I will not give anything away; you will have to buy the book and find out for yourself. “No Greater Love” is a brilliant book by a brilliant Australian author. I hope very much he starts another trilogy along these lines on similar subjects – Bomber Command, Australian Army, Australian Navy – given Sheedy’s writing style, all will be fantastic reads from cover to cover. I also highly recommend the first two books in the trilogy: “Nor the Years Condemn” and “Ghosts of the Empire”.
SHEEDY NAILS IT
Review by Karen Carpenter, Sydney
It is a shame that new Australian talent isn’t exactly encouraged in this country. Authors like Justin Sheedy don’t come along very often. As a reader my favourite thing is discovering a new author then seeing them develop with each new book they publish. All of Sheedy’s books have been a pleasure to read, but in this one, he nails it. For those who have followed the trilogy so far, you sort of know what to expect from the main character of this book, Colin Stone, ‘Stoney’, who we met in Book 1, but when you start reading “No Greater Love” you, the reader, are in for surprises. In short, expect the unexpected. And don’t be put off if you haven’t read the first two books as each story stands on its own. This book is packed with action right from the word go and this continues right through to the last page of the epilogue, effortlessly flowing from one scene to the next. With “No Greater Love”, the action opens in Malta, the most bombed island in the Second World War, and the pace never lets up. The action follows our man Stoney through North Africa, to Sicily, to Britain and France. This is a hard book to put down. Colin Stone is a character of unexpected depth and intelligence, but don’t tell him that, he’ll only blush. A simple man from simple beginnings, this young pilot rises through the ranks as the war progresses due to his creativity and quick thinking in the air. Our leading man is just that: a leading man in his capacity for respect for all no matter their station in life, a man of humour in dire times and love, LOVE of course being the story’s central theme as echoed in the book’s title. The love a man must have in order to say, ok, I can die for every man, woman and child in my country. The capacity for love that a man must have to be prepared to die defending a land he has never before set foot on. Despite such capacity, Colin Stone lacks the single most important thing to every human being: Knowing one’s own worth. It is this that leads to the true heart of this story and its true value. “No Greater Love” continues Sheedy’s story of the individual’s war. What has always been a nice touch with these books is that Sheedy does not discriminate between ‘friend’ and ‘enemy’. The human heart of the war is alive and well in this book. Justin Sheedy has written a brilliant character in Colin Stone, complete with major character flaw. All the best characters have them, like Hamlet. Ok, Stoney’s no Hamlet…
Actually, yes he is, kind of.