SS:GB Len Deighton

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SS-GBSS-GB by Len Deighton

My rating: 3 of 5 stars

I read this because in the UK the BBC is showing an adaptation and I prefer to read the book first, if possible. It’s an unsettling thought to think that the Germans might have won the Battle of Britain and defeated Britain but this book is less about how that happened and more about what people might have done in a defeated and occupied Britain after the war.
It starts as a murder story and the main protagonist, Douglas, is a British, public school-Oxford, police Superintendent; it explores his choices and how it becomes increasingly difficult just to do his job and keep the country safe “for when it is all over”.
I liked the interplay and background related to Douglas and his sergeant. The story becomes increasingly complicated as the players are the resistance (foot soldiers and leaders), the German army, the local police chief and the SS visitor from Berlin, the American journalist, Douglas’s landlady and their two children (a boy each) and their motivations start to appear very diverse and incongruent. Douglas seems to understand and explain what they are – at least some of them – without the book necessarily showing us them. The denouement gets faster and faster and ends up being much more a spy novel or thriller. I thought the journalist was thrown away in the end.
I’ll be interested to see how the TV series presents it all. They’ve already simplified some of the relationships in the interests of time and because it is more difficult to present motivation on screen. I think it is less easy to understand why Douglas is doing what he is doing without that but we’ll see how it turns out.

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