Anzac, Melanesia and defining ourselves as a people
A master of lost causes

It’s a thriller! First book is a case study in great writing

The Master Marksman CoverPHIL FITZPATRICK

The Master Marksman by James Smith, Pukpuk Publications, 2016. 322 pages. ISBN: 978-1523450282. US$14 plus postage from Amazon or AU$24.95 plus postage from the author at

PUKPUK Publications was originally established to produce the annual Crocodile Prize anthologies but branched out to publish books by both Papua New Guinean and Australian writers.

In doing so it utilised new print-on-demand technologies provided, in our case, by Amazon’s Createspace facility.

Pukpuk Publications now has over 30 titles on its book list, most of which have been written by Papua New Guinean authors.

Until recently all the titles had Papua New Guinean themes. But from time to time manuscripts of a more general nature have been submitted for consideration. Previously, I referred them to other publishers.

But with growing penetration of Pukpuk’s books into Papua New Guinea, there’s an opportunity for us to get new books that speak to subjects beyond PNG for people to read.

The first of these has just been published: The Master Marksman by James Smith.

It’s a novel and it follows the transition of a young Queensland pig shooter into an elite SAS marksman and culminates in a final, crucial shot he has to fire to save the nation from political anarchy.

Along the way Ben Thomson has to negotiate the ups and down of military life and survive dangerous missions overseas and in Australia. Little does he know he has been manipulated from the beginning by dark and dangerous forces.

The novel is fast-paced, lean and well-written. It provides many good lessons for potential authors.

Author James Smith is now retired and this is his first book. It sat in a drawer at this home for nearly 20 years before it came to my attention. James left school at 14 and is a great case study that good writing and successful authorship can come from anywhere.

If you like novels that move along at a fast pace, are full of technical detail and offer plenty of thrills that compel you to keep reading, you won’t be disappointed by The Master Marksman.


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