I had intended reading SSGB by Len Deighton before the TV series was broadcast, but I didn’t get around to it. After last Sunday’s episode I just knew that I couldn’t wait a whole week to see what happened next, so I had to go into the garage where we have our overflow bookcases and hooked out our copy of the book.
SS-GB is the first book by Deighton that I’ve read and I’ll definitely be reading more, we have them all so it’ll be quite a long project.
It turns out that the TV adaptation is fairly true to the book, but not completely.
It’s 1941 and the Germans have successfully invaded Great Britain, the people are devastated as you would expect but there is some sort of resistance organisation at work.
Douglas Archer (of Scotland Yard) is a widower with a young son, his wife was killed in an air raid but he’s having to work closely with the Germans. It’s a difficult task, not made easier by the fact that the SS and the German Army are at loggerheads and involved in a power struggle, and Archer having to appear to be compliant with both organisations.
To make matters worse for Archer it looks like he is completely on the side of the Germans and is collaborating with them, meaning that he is in danger of being bumped off by the resistance movement.
The King is in custody – in the Tower of London and there’s a plot to rescue him and get him to safety in the US, but they aren’t interested in harbouring a King of Britain and won’t even hear of him being in North America, meaning Canada is ruled out too.
With nuclear secrets and a romance also in the storyline this book has a bit of everything and is a great read, although it’s also a chilling read as it could so easily have come to pass, and I would have been typing this blogpost in German!