Into the Flames: By the Hands of Men, Book 2

Written by Roy M Griffis
Review by Richard Tearle

A book of two halves. It is 1918, and Nurse Charlotte Braninov has returned to England following the end of the war to seek out Robert Fitzgerald, the man she loves. He fails to recognise her, and Charlotte decides to go back to Russia. But that country is in violent turmoil, and she escapes death only because of her nurse’s uniform. She is sent to the field hospitals of the Red Russians, where conditions are even worse than those she encountered in the trenches. Here she meets and befriends Dr Nikolai, Indrina, and the orphan Zlata.  Still in love with Robert, she stoically lives from day to day.

Meanwhile Robert, who is suffering from loss of memory following a bout of typhus sustained in the trenches, slowly realises who that woman who had claimed to know him was. He learns that she is dead – at least, so he believes – and agrees to serve the government in Shanghai, along with Orlando, his faithful valet. Here he encounters the worst of the Shanghai underworld.

In this second book of the series, Roy Griffis continues where he left off in the first volume – the violence and dreadful conditions of war, the cheapness of life and the cruelty of man – and all without overstating the gruesome parts. But the second half – Robert’s story – is much less slower in pace and, whilst not at all dull, does not quite capture the reader in the same way as Charlotte’s adventures.

Nevertheless, apart from one or two dubious phrases, the writing is excellent and easy to read, and the plots are well crafted. Recommended, though it helps to have read the first book in the series.