Thursday, December 29, 2011

Farthing by Jo Walton

Farthing (2006) by Jo Walton
Series: First in the Small Change trilogy
Genre: alternate reality mystery
Length: 9h 46m
Audio publisher: Audible, Inc, 2011
Read by: John Keating and Bianca Amato

Story: In a 1949 where Hitler retains control of Europe and England has withdrawn from the war, the Farthings are the well-connected family who orchestrated this "Peace with Honor." When one of the Farthings is found dead at their country estate, Scotland Yard inspector Peter Carmichael is on the case. Who did it? Was it Jews? Bolsheviks? Or someone more connected to the family?

Thoughts: Wow. In addition to being a fun cozy mystery worthy of Ms. Christie, Farthing shows life in a world where democracy is eroding and  persecution is tolerated. The point of view alternates from daughter of the house Lucy to Inspector Carmichael, and this dichotomy is inspired. Farthing is the first mystery I've read to use this convention, and it allows the reader to get an inside view into the family machinations and prejudices while also learning about events back at Scotland Yard. Does anyone want to solve this mystery, or do they only want use it for their political advantage? You don't need to like science fiction to love this book. It's real and chilling on a personal level in a setting that could be our history.

Reading: I haven't listened to either Bianca Amato or John Keating before, and I really enjoyed their interpretations. Ms. Amato has a very light, refined voice that perfectly captured the naive young wife, while Mr. Keating lent a world-weariness to Inspector Carmichael as his illusions are removed one by one the further he gets into the case.

Final thoughts: I started Farthing not knowing what to expect and left amazed. I'm so glad this book is out in audio.

Grade: 5 out of 5. One of my best 5 audiobooks of 2011!

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