BLOOD RED ROSE by Maxwell Grant


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Fair-to-middling China fare--an American doctor's nearly 20 years with the Red Army--which pales beside Grant's hearty, deeply authentic saga of the Australian outback, Inherit the Sun (1981). In 1926, Dr. Kate Richmond arrives in Shanghai after years of medical training in the States; the daughter of American missionaries, she's returning to work in her parents' clinic, and perhaps to open a practice of her own. But she's unwittingly drawn into the civil turmoil then enveloping Shanghai when Chinese friends secretly bring her a seriously wounded American named Thomas Blake, whom she knows has a reputation as a soldier of fortune and rakehell. It's gradually clear that he's been running guns for her friends, who are members of the soon-to-beoutlawed Communist Party, but Kate has by this time fallen deeply in love with Blake, whom she nurses back to health. Their affair ends abruptly when armored cars that Blake is supposed to supply to the Reds fall instead into the hands of General Yang Ho, Chiang Kai-shek's brutal Chief of Intelligence, who uses them to massacre hundreds of Reds on the streets of Shanghai. Certain Tom has betrayed them, Kate flees to the countryside with the tattered remnants of the Party, while poor Tom (an innocent dupe of Yang Ho) remains behind to drown his sorrows by marrying Kate's best friend, English socialite Janey Edwards. Much of what follows reads like a Gold Star primer for Chinese gradeschool kids: The Glorious Feats of the Illustrious Heroes of the Revolution. For nearly the next 20 years, Dr. Kate trudges up and down rural China, ministering selflessly to the Red Army throughout numerous battles, The Long March (even longer here), WW II, and the final Communist victory. She has a serious affair with General Shen Sun Lung, a fierce Communist leader, but Blake is always in her heart, so when the masochistic Janey unselfishly slips through Nationalist lines with proof of Tom's innocence (and is then conveniently killed by stray shellfire), Kate escapes to sip champagne with him in Hong Kong. In sum: a mildly satisfying book, but not nearly as pleasurable as Grant's first.

Pub Date: April 3rd, 1986
Publisher: Macmillan