Maybe it’s just me, but I really didn’t like this book. It’s not unpleasant or anything. That’s not the issue here. It just feels false.
So the book takes place in an alternative history Unite Kingdom in 1949. Rather than “what if Nazis” won the war, though it seems like maybe they kind of did, the novel wonders, what would happen in appeasement were taken to its logical conclusion and a binding peace accord were struck with Germany in 1939/1940 after Dunkirk?
Ostensibly, I am on board for all this. The novel then is a murder-mystery that takes place within this universe a few years after the war. Still good by me. A high ranking Fascist British official is killed and a visiting Jewish houseguest is implicated in the murder. All seems fine.
So what happens from here? Why is it that I ended up not liking it? Well, somehow the book took a very interesting premise, mixed with an interesting genre, and made it boring and repetitive.
For one things, there’s two competing narrations happening here: a first person account from the wife of the Jewish murder suspect, and her voice is both annoying and boring for various reasons. The second is from the detectives investing the case. They’re more or less fine, but they feel like a missed opportunity to be more compelling than they are.
The last issue is two fold: the conceit is both over determined and under explored. There’s a LOT of emphasis one what this world would be like. There’s cartoonishly silly anti-Semitism happening on every page, but it’s written by someone who doesn’t seem very interesting in the logic of anti-Semitism, so it read falsely. And the scope of the novel is very narrow, and so I feel like I know almost nothing about the world that they inhabit.