"A terrific alternate history police procedural"

In 1941, Sir James Thirkie arranged a peace treaty with Hitler, which left the Nazis the continent. Eight years later, the right-wing Farthing Group, whose leader made peace in our times with the Germans, seems ready to take control of the Conservative Party and therefore Great Britain itself.

The Farthing leaders meet to discuss and deal with the future of England as they feel fit. However, someone murders their leader Sir James Thirkie leaving a yellow star as worn by Jews in Europe at the insistence of Hitler pinned to his chest with a dagger. This not only throws the Farthing followers in disarray, it places them under the cloud as murder suspects though they insist the Bolsheviks killed their champion. Scotland Yard Inspector Carmichael realizes that the victim died of carbon monoxide poisoning before he was stabbed by his own knife. He also believes the Jewish star is a red herring to throw blame on the despised Jews perhaps Jewish banker husband, David Kahn, whose spouse Lucy is shot. With pressure from his superiors and the leaders of the government to blame the Jews, Carmichael finds himself embroiled in a political conspiracy that could destroy this little rock of a nation.

FARTHING is a terrific alternate history police procedural centered in a world in which the British hierarchy "exiled" Churchill and avoid war by appeasing the Nazis. Though the conspiracy is over the top, the investigation is cleverly handled in a Christie manner that is fun to follow as Carmichael begins to understand the depth of what he is unraveling one layer at a time while his supervisors demand he accuse a Jew preferably the son-in-law of the host. Fans will appreciate this interesting look at a de-Churchill late 1940s England.

Reviewed by Harriet Klausner
Posted November 15, 2006

Reviewed by PNR Group Member
Posted November 20, 2006


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.


by Jo Walton

Tor Books
August 1, 2006
ISBN #0765314215
EAN #9780765314215
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Other Books by
Jo Walton

Tooth and Claw
The Prize in the Game
The King's Name

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