The pain woke him up. He was grateful for it. The train had stopped and somewhere, up above them, the drone of aircraft engines filled the night sky. He could almost remember her smile . . . It must be the morphine . . . He had managed not to think about her for months now.
1944. Paul Brandt, a soldier in the German army, returns wounded and ashamed from the bloody chaos of the Eastern front to find his village home much changed and existing in the dark shadow of an SS rest hut - a luxurious retreat for those who manage the concentration camps, run with the help of a small group of female prisoners who - against all odds - have so far survived the war.
When, by chance, Brandt glimpses one of these prisoners, he realizes that he must find a way to access the hut. For inside is the woman to whom his fate has been tied since their arrest five years before, and now he must do all he can to protect her.
But as the Russian offensive moves ever closer, the days of this rest hut and its SS inhabitants are numbered. And while hope - for Brandt and the female prisoners - grows tantalizingly close, the danger too is now greater than ever.
And, in a forest to the east, a young female Soviet tank driver awaits her orders to advance . . .
William Ryan was called to the English bar after university in Dublin, then worked as a lawyer in the City. His crime novels The Holy Thief, The Bloody Meadow and The Twelfth Department, set in 1930s Stalinist Russia, have been shortlisted for the Theakston's Crime Novel of the Year Award, the CWA New Blood Dagger, the CWA Ellis Peters Historical Dagger, the Irish Fiction Award, and twice for the Ireland AM Irish Crime Novel of the Year Award. His books have been translated into over a dozen languages. William is married and lives in west London. The Constant Soldier is a standalone novel.