by Walton, Jo

First published in 2006, Jo Walton's Farthing was hailed as a masterpiece, a darkly romantic thriller set in an alternate postwar England sliding into fascism.

Eight years after they overthrew Churchill and led Britain into a separate peace with Hitler, the upper-crust families of the "Farthing set" are gathered for a weekend retreat. Among them is estranged Farthing scion Lucy Kahn, who can't understand why her and her husband David's presence was so forcefully requested. Then the country-house idyll is interrupted when the eminent Sir James Thirkie is found murdered-with a yellow Star of David pinned to his chest.

Lucy begins to realize that her Jewish husband is about to be framed for the crime-an outcome that would be convenient for altogether too many of the various political machinations underway in Parliament in the coming week. 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 underdogs-and prone to look beyond the obvious as a result.

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.

JO WALTON won the John W. Campbell Award for Best New Writer on the publication of her debut novel, The King's Peace. Her novel Tooth and Claw won the World Fantasy Award, and the novels of her Small Change sequence-Farthing, Ha'Penny, and Half a Crown-have won acclaim ranging from national newspapers to the Romantic Times Critics' Choice Award. Most recently, her novel Among Others won the Nebula Award. A native of Wales, she lives in Montreal.

One summer evening in 1949, at a -country-house party of the Farthing set, a guest is murdered. ow, the Farthing set is the group that organized peace with Hitler in 1941 and remained prominent in British politics ever since. Lucy, daughter of two set members, was surprised to be invited to the party, because relations with her family have been strained since she married David, a Jew. As the murder investigation proceeds, it becomes clear that David was to be framed for the killing. The Scotland Yard inspector on the case has reasons for looking beyond the obvious, however, even at the highest levels of government. Still, David and Lucy are embroiled in a cruel political trap and eventually have to run. Walton realizes an all-too-convincing alternate world in which the Third Reich but not its spirit was stopped at the English Channel. The characters are highly plausible, and in every aspect, from the petty snobbery hampering the inspector to the we-don't-do-that-here conclusion, the plot encourages warily reconsidering the daily news. ((Reviewed August 2006)) Copyright 2006 Booklist Reviews.

Alternate-world murder mystery from the author of Tooth and Claw (2003), etc.It's 1949: Eight years after Sir James Thirkie brokered a peace with Hitler and abandoned Europe to the Nazis, the right-wing political gang known as the Farthing Group have routed Winston Churchill, seen off a short-lived Labor government and seem poised to take control of the Conservative party and Britain itself. Lord and Lady Eversley have invited guests-including their daughter, Lucy, and her Jewish banker husband, David Kahn-to Farthing House for a formal weekend. Soon, in true Tey-Sayers-Christie fashion, notorious homosexual MP Mark Normanby finds Sir James Thirkie dead in his dressing room, apparently stabbed with his own knife and regaled with a yellow star of the sort Jews are required to wear on the Continent. Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard soon grasps that the "blood" is in fact cheap lipstick, and that Sir James was stabbed after he died-of monoxide poisoning. As for the Jewish star: In a country that barely tolerates Jews and widely despises them, somebody clearly wants to pin the vile deed on David. To further confuse matters, a card-carrying communist gunman wounds Lucy and her father and is shot dead for his pains. Lucy, who knows David is innocent, wonders what her mother was doing wandering the corridors early on the morning the body was discovered, and what Normanby, the deceased's brother-in-law, and the other Farthing Group members are plotting. As the political ramifications widen, Carmichael begins to understand that his superiors care more about politics than justice. Despite a rather fumbling approach, Walton's sinister political conspiracies pack a considerable wallop. Copyright Kirkus 2006 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

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