They don't hang people like me.
–Jo Walton - Ha'penny - c.2007, 2014
Small Change : book 2
In 1949, eight years after the “Peace with Honor” was negotiated between Great Britain and Nazi Germany by the Farthing Set, England has completed its slide into fascist dicatorship. Then a bomb explodes in a London suburb.
The brilliant but politically compromised Inspector Carmichael of Scotland Yard is assigned the case. What he finds leads him to a conspiracy of peers and communists, of staunch King-and- Country patriots and hardened IRA gunmen, to murder Britain’s Prime Minister and his new ally, Adolf Hitler.
I read Farthing last month, and straight away I added the next book to Mount TBR. Well, the second I finished this I almost grabbed the third in the series to start reading it. In fact, had it not been for the fact that I didn’t have it with me, and had time left on my lunch for reading, I would probably have dived right into the third book. Because I loved this one. I mean, I really liked Farthing, it was great, but this one is even better in some respects.
It is certainly darker.
And yet despite the darkness and the horror it is an incredibly easy book to read and to enjoy. Also, when I say dark and horror, I don’t mean that there this is anything like a torture-porn story or a ghost story. Instead it is a social and political horror story, the erosion of democracy and the formation of a fascist society. And how easy it seems to happen.
I hadn’t read the blurb on the back, of this, or any of the other books in the series, so I thought this might be a continuation of Lucy and David’s story. So I was a bit thrown to have a different first person narrator. But only initially. After a paragraph or too I could see why Walton chose to centre the story on a different woman. She’s from a similar class and status to Lucy, but she has a very different outlook to her.
Inspector Carmichael is the returning central character here, and after how Farthing ended for him, he has serious soul searching to do. His story is so important. A good man, in terrible times, with a secret that those in power are all too willing to use to keep him in line. His story is heart-breaking.
I found that I kept wanting to keep reading this book. It’s certainly a tense, atmospheric page-turner of a book. Makes for compulsive reading.