Remember I said in my last blog that I often read books in the wrong order? Not this time! The British Lion is the sequel to The Darkest Hour – Tony Schumacher’s alternate history of Britain just after the end of WW2 where Germany was the victor.
The Darkest Hour introduced us to John Rossett – a cross between Bourne and Bond. Rossett had been a police officer prior to the war and then a decorated war hero as a soldier. With the fall of Britain and the deaths of his wife and son, due to a British Resistance bomb, Rossett loses his sense of self and becomes a lackey for the Germans, rounding up Jews for redistribution. I don’t want to tell you too much more, other than his German boss is Major Koehler of the SS.
In the British Lion, Koehler finds that he still needs his British policeman’s help. Koehler’s wife and daughter have been kidnapped and the ransom is the kidnap of another woman, Ruth Hartz, a scientist in Cambridge.
This book initially appeared to be a more personal story about Major Koehler and the abduction of his family, with Rossett playing less of a role this time. The backdrop is an incredibly harsh winter that impedes Rossett at every turn as he tries to take Ruth Hartz. Even though I read this during the summer, the sense of coldness that permeates through the story and the characters, chilled me. And what seemed like a personal matter to begin with, suddenly becomes a problem of epic proportions when we realise the importance of Ruth Harz and the work she’s been doing at Cambridge.
But the most chilling thing with both books, is the absolute plausibility of the plots. What would Britain have been like if the Nazis had won? I suspect that Schumacher is quite close to the truth.
The British Lion finishes with a tantalising cliff hanger which I hope will lead to a third John Rossett book!
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