Rating: 3 stars
The BBC is showing an adaptation of Len Deighton’s alternative history espionage novel SS-GB. We’re two episodes in, and I’m enjoying it. The storyline seems a bit opaque at times, though.
I decided to buy the book this weekend. I had a book token from Christmas and it was in a half price deal at Waterstone’s. My mum liked Len Deighton’s books, too.
By about a quarter of the way through it became obvious that, for dramatic tension as well as condensing 377 pages of story, the TV adaptation has moved the action around a bit and dropped some of the detail that would help make sense of the story. In the novel, the reasons behind certain things that weren’t yet fully clear, and confusingly so, two episodes into the TV adaptation are more apparent earlier on.
I was hooked into the book pretty quickly. It’s the first Deighton novel I’ve read and I like his writing. He’s very crisp, with an eye for detail that is subtle but pleasing. Exposition is dropped casually into conversation or included as background narrative. The premise is an intriguing one, and I enjoyed reading Deighton’s introduction to the book that explains how he came to choose it. Making a police officer the main protagonist means the story is cleverly framed as a traditional murder mystery, but gives Deighton the scope to also bring in speculation about an alternative outcome to the Second World War and to have an espionage subplot running through the book as well. Continue reading