One summer weekend in 1949—but not our 1949—the well-connected "Farthing set", a group of upper-crust English families, enjoy a country retreat. Lucy is a minor daughter in one of those families; her parents were both leading figures in the group that overthrew Churchill and negotiated peace with Herr Hitler eight years before.
Despite her parents' evident disapproval, Lucy is married—happily—to a London Jew. It was therefore quite a surprise to Lucy when she and her husband David found themselves invited to the retreat. It's even more startling when, on the retreat's first night, a major politician of the Farthing set is found gruesomely murdered, with abundant signs that the killing was ritualistic.
It quickly becomes clear to Lucy that she and David were brought to the retreat in order to pin the murder on him. Major political machinations are at stake, including an initiative in Parliament, supported by the Farthing set, to limit the right to vote to university graduates. But whoever's behind the murder, and the frame-up, didn't reckon on the principal investigator from Scotland Yard being a man with very private reasons for sympathizing with outcasts…and looking beyond the obvious.
As the trap slowly shuts on Lucy and David, they begin to see a way out—a way fraught with peril in a darkening world.
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World Fantasy Award winner Walton (Tooth and Claw) crosses genres without missing a beat with this stunningly powerful alternative history set in 1949, eight years after Britain agreed to peace with Nazi Germany, leaving Hitler in control of the European continent. A typical gathering at the country estate of Farthing of the power elite who brokered the deal is thrown into turmoil when the main negotiator, Sir James Thirkie, is murdered, with a yellow star pinned to his chest with a dagger. The author deftly alternates perspective between Lucy Kahn, the host's daughter, who has disgraced herself in her family's eyes by marrying a Jew, and Scotland Yard Inspector Peter Carmichael, who quickly suspects that the killer was not a Bolshevik terrorist. But while the whodunit plot is compelling, it's the convincing portrait of a country's incremental slide into fascism that makes this novel a standout. Mainstream readers should be enthralled as well.
Customer ReviewsSee All
Captivating characters and intriguing ideas combine
I thoroughly enjoyed reading _Farthing_ and I'm almost ashamed that it took me this long to share my love for this book here on iTunes. Meticulously crafted, the reader new to this book should be forewarned: the alternate history is so cleverly written that one's own recollections may be cast in doubt. I look forward to reading more of Jo Walton's works.