“He leaned on an old bamboo cane, its carved handle smoothed by the years. A sharp eye might pick out the Sepik River motif, but only a wantok could explain. Eyes wet, the old man looked up to where the crows hunched … the movie suddenly stopped, then began to roll forwards … Ben Williams was once again seven years old.”
Paradise is shattered the night Lu, niece of a respected and proud Chinese merchant family, was brutally raped. Such an act cannot go unpunished. Payback is required, is expected.
And so begins the feud …
Ben Williams – The serious eldest child of Harry and Victoria Williams, leader of the pack, as wild as his adopted country. From an early age Ben proved a quick study, displaying a raw toughness beyond his years. While still wet behind the ears, he mastered knife, gun and explosives, not for sport but survival. His strong business sense expanded the family’s interests beyond copra, into gold, crocodiles, timber and shipping.
Jack Williams – Ruggedly handsome, untamed and competitive. His vivid blue eyes miss nothing over the bow of his schooner, Garamut. As formidable as his brother Ben in the art of weaponry, the glorious Jane Bifold presented his greatest challenge. Spiriting her away at high tide against the furious protestations of her father, Jack and Jane find themselves caught up in a war that this tiny nation is ill prepared for.
Josh (Joseph) Williams – Highly competitive, his blue eyes would flash in challenge at his older siblings as he strived constantly to be the best. Josh quickly discovered that quality crocodile skins were a much sought after commodity, and one he could produce well. He wasn’t prepared for Khanitha, the poised and elegant daughter of the merchant Wong Yuk Chong. Were his skills enough to win the love of this most magnificent creature as well as the respect of her formidable family.
George Williams – The youngest of the William’s clan. Born after the tragic death of sister Ethel, he grew up to be a solemn and quiet young man often shadowed by the imposing Ben, passionate Jack and impetuous Josh. It was the freckle faced young Margaret who would be the one to crack the shell and bring him to life. A life sadly cut short when captured somewhere in New Ireland, then lost at sea with over 1000 others with the sinking of the Japanese p.o.w. ship Montivideo Maru.
Gustav Hart – With a German father and Tabar Island mother he found himself despised by the Germans and disowned by the Islanders … he grew bitter as he aged. This bitterness flowed on to his five sons to three mixed-race women.
Karl Frederiksen – A product of Gustav’s brutal parenting, his upbringing created a thug. Blond, cunning and clever. He is forced to flee Lavongai in the darkest hour of the night following the discovery of his involvement in the rape of the Chinese girl. Payback is heading his way. He does not want this exile – for those who forced it upon him their time for payback would come.
Praise for John Bell
“Once I started, I couldn’t put it down. A real page turner. Congratulations.” KL, NSW
“Payback is a great read, I couldn’t put it down. A heartbreaking story especially knowing it is based on a true story.” LB, TVL
“I have just finished my reading of Payback last night. This was a book equal of any that I have read … it was a novel that was hard to put down, and for some the epic would be seen as being profound in the history of Australia.” GB, QLD
“Outlandish, but has a ring of truth. Payback is a true story disguised as a novel. Based very closely on Bell’s family history, it is set in New Guinea … The temptation for the reader in this book is to try and work out what is true and what is fiction, but this is a fruitless exercise … Bell has produced a great read – tragic, funny, engaging and throwing a new light on our nearest neighbour, PNG. In a word: ENGROSSING.” Excerpt of review, Townsville Bulletin’s Weekend Extra
Purchase by following the links below:
AMAZON – John Bell Books
John Bell Books