Friday, June 06, 2014

Friday's Forgotten Books, Friday, June 6, 2014

Next week, Evan Lewis will be collecting the links.

Jo Walton, Farthing (2006)

                  Ha'penny (2007)

                  Half a Crown (2008)

Reviewed by Jeff Meyerson

As a mystery fan who has read all of Christie and Sayers and much of Marsh and Allingham, as well as a long-time fan of alternate history books, there was little doubt I would read Jo Walton's trilogy set in an "alternate" post-World War II Britain where Churchill was out and peace was made with Hitler in 1941 and the Americans never entered the war.

The three books have the same format.  Each is told in alternating chapters, with the odd numbered chapters narrated by a young woman and the even numbered chapters told in third person from the point of view of Insp. Peter Carmichael of Scotland Yard.

The first book, Farthing, takes place at the titular country house, where the right wing "Farthing set" (based on the real-life Cliveden set) (WARNING: PLOT REVEALED) murder a prominent politician and frame a Jew to seize power and make one of their own Prime Minister.  (END WARNING) The narrator is Lucy Kahn, daughter of the house, who is married to the Jewish scapegoat.  Carmichael is not buying the obvious frame but his own personal life puts him in the position of having to go along with his superior's orders.

The second book, Ha'penny, set like it's predecessor in 1949, moves to a fascinating theater background.  Viola Lark (nee Larkin), third daughter of six in a prominent family (call them the Mitfords) who has one sister married to Himmler, another a Communist, and a third a duchess, is set to star in a partial reverse-sex version of Hamlet (which, I must admit, sounds like a show I would have loved to see!) when her sister and uncle tries to draw her into the plot to blow up the new fascist Prime Minister and a visiting Adolf Hitler.  Once again Insp. Carmichael is on the case.  I think this was my favorite of the three.

Lastly, in 1960 Carmichael is now the head of The Watch, meant to be Britain's Gestapo, though he is secretly helping Jews escape the country.  His ward is about to "come out" as a deb at the same time the government is planning to crack down even more and consolidate their power. 

I liked this series a lot.  I discovered Walton, a fantasy and science fiction writer, through her What Makes This Book So Great (about her sf/fantasy reading) and I'm glad I did.  Highly recommended.


Reviewed by Patti Abbott

I have read three of McCullers novels but none prepared me for the oddity and loveliness of this one. More a novella than a novel, it takes place on an army base that functions as a hothouse for cramped and unmet desires amongst a group of six. This handful of characters is suffering in various ways yet continue to play cards, drink, dine, ride horses. None of their motives are entirely apparent, but by the end disaster has overtaken most of them. This is truly a noir book. McCullers wrote it after her first book THE HEART IS A LONELY HUNTER became a best seller, and the reaction was somewhat critical. It is very modern in its topics for the time. Highly recommended.

Yvette Banek, ASSIGNMENT IN BRITTANY, Helen MacInnes
Brian Busby, SIN FOR YOUR SUPPER, Milton Douglas
Bill Crider, KING OF THE BS: WORKING WITH THE HOLLYWOOD SYSTEM, ed Todd McCarthy and Charles Flynn
Curt Evans, MY SON, THE MURDERER, Patrick Quentin
Ed Gorman, THE CRIME LOVER'S CASEBOOK, Jerome Charyn
Rock Horton, THE KING'S JACKAL, William Harding Davis
Jerry House, REBEL: CITY OF INDRA, Kendell and Kylie Jenner
Randy Johnson. 42 DAYS FOR MURDER, Roger Torrey
George Kelle, PIETR, THE LATVIAN, Georges Simenon
Margot Kinberg,THE CHINESE MAZE MURDERS, Robert Van Gulik
Rob Kitchin, BEHIND THE NIGHT BAZAAR, Angela Savage
B.V. Lawson, GIDEON'S FIRE, John Creasey
Evan Lewis, ADVENTURE HEROES, Jeff Rover
Steve Lewis, Marvin Lachman, ABOUT THE MURDER OF A MAN AND WOMAN, Anthony    Abbot
Neer, CROME YELLOW, Aldous Huxley
J.F.Norris, PILGRIM'S REST, Patricia Wentworth
James Reasoner, SIN-A-RAMA.Brittany, Delany, et al
Ron Scheer, THE LAW OF RANDADO, Elmore Leonard
Kevin Tipple/Patrick Ohl, THE DEVOTION OF SUSPECT X, Keigo Higashino
Prashant Trikannad, CARVED IN SAND, Erle Stanley Gardner


Anonymous said...

Since Patti left out my name on there, the Walton review is mine.

Jeff M.

Charles Gramlich said...

I do enjoy alternate history myself. Sounds interesting.

Anonymous said...

Thanks, Patti.

Jeff M.

Joe Barone said...

Patti, I'm sure I'm not alone, but Carson McCullers is one of my favorite writers.

Gerard said...

I have nothing. Too busy to take notes on the last two audiobooks I heard.

J F Norris said...

"Twas a rough night...", as the Thane of Cawdor once said.

But now my contribution is posted.

Pilgrim's Rest by Patricia Wentworth

Yvette said...

I've got one today, Patti. Thanks for putting up with me. :)

Todd Mason said...

Finally up:

FFB: Steven Scheuer Memorial Redux: Reviewing the Critics, A/V division: John Simon, Pauline Kael, Harlan Ellison, James Agee, Roger Ebert, Kathi Maio, Lucius Shepard et al.

Yvette said...

Those books set in an alternate Britain sound intriguing, Jeff. I'm adding them to my list.

REFLECTIONS IN A GOLDEN EYE was turned into a disastrous movie starring Marlon Brando, Patti. Remember? I think it was Liz Taylor as the wife, not sure though. Memory plays tricks. Never read the novella though.

neer said...

Hi Patti

Here's mine:

Crome Yellow by Aldous Huxley.


K. A. Laity said...

I did a FFB but didn't remember to let you know.