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Against a background of increasing domestic espionage and the suppression of Jews and homosexuals, an ad-hoc band of idealists and conservatives blackmail the one person they need to complete their plot, an actress who lives for her art and holds the key to the fuhrer's death. From the ha'penny seats in the theatre to the ha'pennies that cover dead men's eyes, the conspiracy and the investigation swirl around one another, spinning beyond anyone's control.
In this brilliant companion to Farthing, Welsh-born World Fantasy Award-winner Jo Walton continues her alternate history of an England that could have been with a novel that is both an homage of the classic detective novels of the 30s and 40s and an allegory of the world we live in today.
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By Robin on 03-16-15
Middle book builds a world
This is a sequel to Farthing, and is followed by Half a Crown. It occurs right after the first book and features Inspector Carmichael. The other part of the story involves the theater world, which in some ways is a metaphor for all the acting and pretending and shams in this alternate history. It's quite gripping and I had to instantly go to the 3rd book. The narration is excellent, not over the top, just letting the dramatic events speak for themselves.
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By Mike From Mesa on 01-15-15
Disquieting and riveting
Jo Walton has given us a brilliantly thought out alternative to the existing post World War II world that we know. England has replaced Churchill with an appeasement minded Prime Minister, has struck a deal with Hitler, the war in western Europe has ended and 8 years later Hitler is still fighting in Russia. England, like all independent powers on the periphery of the Third Reich, has slid into a milder form of fascism and is trying to accommodate itself to the new reality. It is both horrifying and easily believable.
This volume, the second in the series, involves the police, under an independently minded, but politically compromised, inspector trying to determine what was behind the explosion of a bomb in a London area residence. This book, like the first, tackles the story through the eyes of two separate individuals whose fate are eventually intertwined. In this case we have the story through Inspector Carmichael’s eyes and those of the lead actress in a new version of Hamlet that is to be staged. How the two tales come together and how the mystery is solved constitutes this book.
As with the first book in this series the characters seem real, the story progresses logically and nothing that takes place seems unreasonable. The chain of evidence from the bomb to the plot that drives the book is forged one link at a time and it is all so real that this could have been a history rather than a novel. All of the participants are inevitably drawn into their actions by small incremental choices and nothing seems like an unreasonable stretch. The reader is left with both the horror of the created world and the feeling that, without someone like Churchill, all of this could have happened. I was drained at the end of the book by the horror of a world that could easily have been and by the fates of those involved in this book and I needed to keep telling myself that this was a novel and not real.
I did not review the first book in this series because I was also left horrified by the world presented by the story and did not know how to properly explain how both wonderful the book was and how horrible the created world felt but, with the second book, I felt I needed to put something down on paper. Both of these books are simply wonderful, splendidly narrated and will leave you disquieted and uneasy. They certainly did leave me that way. I will buy and read the third volume but I must give myself some time first.
1 of 1 people found this review helpful