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Reviewed by Maria Beltran for Readers' Favorite
The Trail Through Hell: A Novel Of The Army's Pacific Victory by J. Scott Payne is a historical novel about the Second World War that is fought in the jungles of New Guinea and the Philippines. Master Sergeant Jim Mays, straight from the Buna Campaign in New Guinea and wounded, is recuperating in Australia. He comes across a little girl, Judith, whose cat, Silky, he rescues from a tree. This leads to an introduction to Suzanne and a deep friendship develops between the three. There is, however, still a war going on and he is recruited to train volunteers in a top secret reconnaissance unit that will go behind enemy lines in New Guinea and the Philippines. Leaving Suzanne behind in Australia, he fights in a brutal war against the Japanese army determined to win the war at all cost.
Reading J. Scott Payne's The Trail Through Hell is akin to having an intimate experience of the Second World War. When Master Sergeant Jim Mays narrowly survives the opening battle for New Guinea, he has to learn very fast how to survive the jungle rot, diseases and the shrapnel wounds that bring him to a hospital in Australia. J. Scott Payne's descriptive writing style is vivid and concise. Obviously, he knows exactly what he is writing about but what makes The Trail Through Hell specially interesting is that it poses the question: Can love and friendship triumph over a brutal war that has already cost numerous lives and separated many couples?