One year after Johnstone kicked off the 'Out of the Ashes' series he returns with book two. "Fire in the Ashes" was released in 1984 via Zebra and incredibly makes things even worse. How is this even possible?
In this ill-conceived second entry Ben Raines is running around the country after his rebels have fallen by the wayside. Some bigwigs named Cody and Lowry are pretty much running the country now and what is left is a stiff-armed police state. The duo use a mercenary team led by the beefy Hartline to punish the people and to keep the pockets of resistance at a minimum. For the most part things are back to normal. You know, like gang rapes and sodomy on nearly every single page. Ugh. Is this the post-apocalypse or point of entry? Johnstone has a serious penchant for the dirty stuff and doesn't leave any clean sheets here. This book is absolutely filthy as readers read how Hartline spends an insane amount of time violating a reporter named Sabra, her young daughter and Ben's old flame Jerre. There isn't a single point to any of it. Throw in the rough patch here and there of sexual torture and you ultimately get the first 350 pages. It's nonsensical and totally classless.
What is really happening? Well the government's military is backing Ben Raines and his rebels and soon the government is dissolved and Ben is made the president. Then the whole thing goes cream corn as a plague hits the country and kills off most of the population. It turns out all the dead bodies over the years have created a serious mutant rat problem that has spread the plague via fleas. Oh and guess what else is running around? Giant mutant boys. Ben fights a giant mutated six-year old boy. Seriously. It is pretty much the highlight of the whole thing and comes painfully near the last chapter.
I don't recommend this to anyone. It's political jibber-jabber through page after page of pointless right vs left drivel. Top it off with nearly endless flashbacks from book one and throw in a small firefight near the end. Stay away from this at all costs.