Saturday, November 17, 2007

In for A Penny...

Don't be put off by the labels "fantasy" or "alternative history": Walton knows how to use the classic mystery form to create a frightening trilogy about what might have happened if Hitler had conquered England. In "Farthing," a determined daughter of one of the leaders of the Farthing Set -- named after their ancestral home -- which negotiated the peace in 1941 lets her diary entries tell the story, alternating with the voice of a top London detective who comes from a harder school and maintains a dangerous private life.

In "Ha'Penny," it's eight years later, in 1949, and the female narrator shifts to a leading young actress. The British theater is thriving, despite Nazi propaganda films by the dozens offered free to a working class weakened by poverty.

Meanwhile, the rampant Black Market and corruption at the highest levels have split the country. America, run by President Charles Lindbergh and his isolationist government, refuses to help its former Allies. It's a bleak picture, but Walton is such a strong and hopeful writer that next year's "Half A Crown" (the third book in her beautifully-titled "Small Change" series) might show us all a way out. Many thanks to Tor, for giving its full publishing push to this terrific project.

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