Ha'penny is the sequel to Farthing and its events begin only days after the end of Farthing. The universe Jo Walton has created envisions an England in the late 40's that made a devil's bargain with Hitler's Germany. The war ended in 1941. America never got involved. The German's rule the European Continent and continue an active front with Stalin.
The Anti-Semitism that has simmered in early 20th Century England now bubbles to the surface. Chamberlain is an unheard member of the Opposition and Facism is the rule.
All of this sets the stage for Mr. Carmichael. He's gay, his bosses know it and they hold it over his head to control him. He's also an Inspector with Scotland Yard. The story begins with an almost over the hill actress and an unkown male blowing themselves to bits making a bomb. What had they intended to do with the bomb? Does their death mean the Conspiracy is at an end or will someone else pick up the baton?
Once again, Walton creates interesting conflicted characters...and gives them more than enough to be conflicted about. Carmichael is wonderfully and understatedly drawn. There's evil at every turn and very few people with the fortitude to stand up to it. Who is a terrorist and who is on the side of the angels.
This is a terrific series with another entry, Half A Crown, coming in October as a Tor hardcover. I'm looking forward to it and I'll be keeping my eye out for some of Walton's previous works. Go get them. I wouldn't steer you wrong. (Note: I'm not sure how much of an American audience Walton has developed. Bookstores seem to either not have her in stock or to put the books in the wrong section. I was specifically looking for Ha'penny and when I didn't see it in the SF/F section, I took a chance and guess what...it was in the Romance section.)