If you are among those who have kept faith in R. C. Hutchinson, in spite of successive novels (Shining Scabbard, One Light Burning, etc.) not quite coming across, you will find this novel justifies your expectations and hopes. If you don't know R. C. Hutchinson, you have a treat in store for you. The Fire and The Wood has all the brilliance of its predecessors -- and avoids the pitfalls. For the first time, he has been able to hold suspense every step of the way; he has at last surmounted the difficulties which made his earlier novels confused and unorientated. Here is a first rate story, and an unusual achievement in the gradual building of sympathy and regard for a character who at the start is wooden and unappealing. Actually, the man, a gifted young doctor, whose concentration on his passion for research and experimentation takes precedence over all human elements in the first half of the book, develops through his experiences, and emerges as a different and more likable human being. His race -- and his eccentricities -- land him in a concentration camp, with the Nazi coming to power; and his escape and trip by inland waterways to Holland and then across to England, is every bit as good as Escape. In addition, this is a unique love story, not always wholly convincing, but always wholly absorbing. Good reading from first to last.