After recently finishing and reviewing Tony Schumacher’s debut “The Darkest Hour” (2014) I was eagerly anticipating reading the second in his alternate history series.
The Nazis have successfully invaded Britain and have installed Oswald Moseley as Prime Minister. Set in the immediate aftermath of the war, various factions are attempting to undermine the Nazi regime. Ex-Policeman Rossett, nicknamed “The British Lion” because of his heroic war-time exploits, is a main character with much potential. This follow-up is not as successful as Schumacher has moved away from some of the elements that made its predecessor work so well. The intensity of the action-packed debut set in a wintry London which feels like it is looming in on the main characters all driven on by a chilling moral issue has been diffused. Schumacher has opened this all up and here we have a couple of kidnappings with the factions – the Germans, the British Resistance, the Americans and the Royalists all battling against one another with Rossett stranded in the middle. The setting has lost its power as Rossett spends much of the novel on the road to Cambridge and, although there is another moral issue at the core, this time it does not seem as immediate or as comprehensible to the main protagonists. Schumacher has also used a lot of speech between characters which has the tendency to slow things down, losing the pace of the original.
Having said all this it is still a good read and kept me involved. This is the second time recently a follow-up alternate history novel has fallen short of its strong debut, as Justin Richards’ “Never War” series which throws aliens into the World War II mix also felt a let-down. I’m hoping that the third book from both of these authors sees them regaining their potential.
The British Lion is published in 2015 by William Morrow, an imprint of Harper Collins.
This review can also be found on the Book Chap section of the Nudge Books site