Recently featured on BBC2’s Between The Covers, this is a fantastic read!
About the Author
Philip studied modern history at Cambridge University, and went on to work as a journalist in Madrid, Rome and Lisbon. He has tutored in crime writing at City University in London and serves as a director at an award-winning documentary film company, specialising in science and history.
Philip’s grandfather was a captain in the Lancashire Fusiliers and fought through the First World War from start to finish, losing his closest friends along the way. Years after his death, Philip came across a cache of trench maps and military documents that his grandfather had kept, and in which he had recorded the events that befell his unit. Philip was inspired to write his thriller Two Storm Wood when the pull of his grandfather’s legacy felt too strong to ignore. Follow @PhilipGrayBooks on Twitter, Visit philipgraybooks.com
About the book
1919. On the desolate battlefields of northern France, the guns of the Great War are silent. Special battalions now face the dangerous task of gathering up the dead for mass burial.
Amy Vanneck’s fiancé is one soldier lost amongst many, but she is not ready to accept that his body may never be found. Defying convention, hardship and impossible odds, she heads to France, determined to discover what became of the man she loved.
Captain Mackenzie is a survivor of the war, but still its prisoner. He cannot return home until his fallen comrades are recovered and laid to rest. His task is upended when a gruesome discovery is made beneath the ruins of a of a German strongpoint.
It soon becomes clear that what Mackenzie has uncovered is a war crime of inhuman savagery. As the dark truth leaches, both he and Amy are drawn into hunt for a psychopath, one for whom the atrocity at Two Storm Wood is not an end, but a beginning.
Amy is in limbo. Like many others who receive a MIA notification there is no closure and always an element of hope, despite the fact they know that their loved one is dead. Amy doesn’t want to accept the inevitable truth and sets out on a dangerous journey to find the truth – one way or the other.
In the ruins of human misery she finds more than she bargained for and Captain Mackenzie, a man who is unable to let go of this deeply ingrained sense of duty towards his fallen comrades. The two of them uncover a layer of depravity neither of them are prepared for.
Leaving aside the main premise of this book, I want to take a moment to give the author credit for the aspect of the war he uses to frame the essence of the story. I have read many books on the war, both the Great War and WW2, and they tend to concentrate on the combat, pre-war and post-war, but post-war as life unfolds afterwards. Not many focus on the aftermath and the actual reality of death and the dead, the fields and land strewn with the remains of the dead.
Rotting corpses, pieces of human beings, sometimes not even that. Often the only link to identity would be an item that hadn’t decomposed and become part of the fabric of the land forever. There is hardly a mention of the soldiers and civilians tasked with ensuring as many victims of the war were identified. This aspect of the story is exceptional – just saying.
I wouldn’t hesitate to return to this author. I really enjoyed the style, the scene setting, and the ability to create this level of magical realism drenched in horror and built upon a layer of factual reality. You can feel the fear, the pain and the sorrow – and that’s without even venturing into the core of the plot.