The British Lion
In The British Lion, sequel to The Darkest Hour, author Tony Schumacher has created a believable and terrifying alternative world in which the Nazis were victorious during World War II and now not only occupy Britain, but have an uneasy detente with the United States. The book opens with decorated London police officer, John Henry Rossett, known as the British Lion for his bravery during the war, in a hospital bed recovering from a gunshot wound. His friend and boss, SS officer Ernst Koehler, helps cover up the facts of the incident that led to the shooting. Neither man quite trusts the other, but when Koehler’s own wife and daughter are kidnapped by American spies, Koehler turns to Rossett for help rather than going to any of his comrades. The Americans, seeking to discover the whereabouts of a Jewish nuclear scientist in order to kidnap her, believes Koehler will trade the information to save his family, but things go wrong from the beginning and then go from bad to much, much worse.
An intricately plotted mystery, The British Lion is an atmospheric work that describes the depressing and oppressive world of a defeated and occupied nation. There is not a contented soul in its pages, and Schumacher ably evokes the cold of both the weather and the relationships between the characters in dark, wintery language. What fleeting moments of happiness that do exist are quickly extinguished, and human connections are put to the test over and over again. Schumacher has painted London on a canvas of chaos and suspicion, and I am glad I don’t live there. Recommended for fans of historical mystery and alternative history.