“Ahmad smiled thoughtfully, ‘I have been to war many times. I am too tired of it to be afraid.'”
— from “Mosquito”
Walter P. Bowes’s novel “Mosquito” opens in 1950 with an American, a German and a Russian — seemingly once and future adversaries given the geopolitics of the times — squeezed into a cargo plane above West Africa, harassed by Messerschmidtts left over from World War II. The American is Major Ira Colby, a war veteran now flying a C47 for an air taxi and delivery outfit he calls Global Transport. He and his German mechanic, Rick, are based in Tangier, that scruffy internationalized city on the northwest corner of Africa. Back on the ground they head for Molly’s, a tavern and a place of ill-repute or refuge, depending on individual needs. A shady CIA agent has a drug-running job for Colby. Sister Agnes, a Catholic nun, comes to enlist his help in saving the lives of children stranded at a desert oasis and at risk of being sold into slavery. Colby is hard-pressed to accept either task. The elements are falling into place for a fast-paced, violent, exciting adult action adventure.
Colby and Rick damage the C47 upon landing at the desert airstrip but, in a twist of plot that is logical at an isolated airfield, they find an abandoned plane that can be salvaged to fly again. The Mosquito was built by the British deHavill and company and was among the spunkiest aircraft to see action in World War II. Shapely, fast and maneuverable, Colby and his Mosquito become perfect partners through the battles ahead in the desert. There is an ongoing tribal conflict between the Jurani — allied with an evil drug baron called Turk — and the Coman, whose young king, his beautiful sister and two dozen orphans seek Colby’s protection. Both sides were equipped with surplus World War II armaments. There are also the French, the colonial power seeking to avoid further embarrassment.
The force of twelve hundred Jurani had lost the race to the oasis and they now occupied the far slope of the southwestern dunes. They had, however, surprised Turk’s departing armor and had charged in after the first contact, attempting to take the remaining forces. They had failed, but only just barely. The halftracks and armored cars fought a successful retreat and again held the perimeter of the oasis. Small arms were no match against mounted machine guns and armor.
This was all right. Kadar could wait. He sat astride his horse, out of easy range, taunting Turk’s forces. He was patient, and dark was approaching. Besides it would be interesting to play with his new French mortars. He would soften them up before a dawn attack.
— from “Mosquito”
Walter P. Bowes of Elmira became a writer after establishing himself as a furniture designer and builder; he presently works as a bus driver for First Transit in Elmira. “Mosquito” is his first novel. He joins Bill Jaker on Off the Page to tell about the adventures in his writing experience, the task of keeping the action moving and believable, the research necessary and the political and social setting of his book.