Dominion is a thriller in an alternative timeline. It opens in the war cabinet room at 10 Downing Street, London on the 9th of May 1940, a meeting of the chiefs and a decision to be made, Prime minister Chamberlain is stepping down, there are too candidates for the job, Churchill and Lord Halifax.
The storyline then continues as an alternative world for Britain, Churchill was sidelined, Britain signed a peace treaty with Germany. The book then jumps to 1952. Germany dominates Europe has a strong hold of Britain and has been pouring men and resources into a long battle with Russia.
Churchill has gone to ground and is rumoured to be leading the resistance, more and more people are angry and there is much civil unrest. Jews are still being rounded up and sent to secret extermination camps.
David Fitzgerald works in the Dominions office as a civil servant, he organises meetings between representatives from international governments, disillusioned he is recruited by the resistance to leak secret documents.
Doctor Frank Muncaster is a scientist, his brother a scientist over in America returns for their mother’s funeral. Fueled by drink he tells Frank secrets about atomic bombs that he is working on. Shocked at the potential threat to man, Frank and his brother fight. The police are called and Frank is placed in a lunatic asylum, but he has become a man of great interest because of what people believe he has been told. Both the resistance and the German high command want that valuable knowledge.
David and Frank shared rooms at University and he is the ideal man to speak to Frank, but time is short with the German’s wanting Frank too. Supported by the Americans the resistance swipe Frank from under the noses of the Germans and a cat and mouse game of chase begins.
This is a huge book coming in at nearly 700 pages, a well laid out land of possibilities if Churchill really had not taken office on that fatal day back in 1940. The setting was suitably bleak, and the choking smog from all the heavy industrial work was dramatic. I’m late coming to read this book, it was first published in 2012, but I’m glad I made the time to read it.
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1952. Twelve years have passed since Churchill lost to the appeasers, and Britain surrendered to Nazi Germany after Dunkirk. As the long German war against Russia rages on in the east, the British people find themselves under dark authoritarian rule: the press, radio and television are controlled; the streets patrolled by violent auxiliary police and British Jews face ever greater constraints. There are terrible rumours too about what is happening in the basement of the German Embassy at Senate House.
Defiance, though, is growing. In Britain, Winston Churchill’s Resistance organisation is increasingly a thorn in the government’s side. And in a Birmingham mental hospital an incarcerated scientist, Frank Muncaster, may hold a secret that could change the balance of the world struggle forever.
Civil Servant David Fitzgerald, secretly acting as a spy for the Resistance, is given by them the mission to rescue his old friend Frank and get him out of the country. Before long he, together with a disparate group of Resistance activists, will find themselves fugitives in the midst of London’s Great Smog; as David’s wife Sarah finds herself drawn into a world more terrifying than she ever could have imagined.
And hard on their heels is Gestapo Sturmbannfuhrer Gunther Hoth, brilliant, implacable hunter of men . . .
At once a vivid, haunting reimagining of 1950s Britain, a gripping, humane spy thriller and a poignant love story – with DOMINION C. J. Sansom once again asserts himself as the master of the historical novel.