SS-GB

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SS-GB is an alternate history novel by Len Deighton, set in a United Kingdom fictionally conquered and occupied by Germany during World War II. The novel's title refers to the branch of the Nazi SS that controls Britain.

Contents

Plot summary

It is November 1941, nine months after a German invasion led to the British surrender. Detective Superintendent Douglas Archer, a British homicide detective assigned to Scotland Yard, is called in to investigate a murder of a well-dressed man in an apartment in Shepherd Market. Though the body has two gunshot wounds, Archer is puzzled by the condition of the body, in particular what appears to be a sunburn on the body's arm. To his surprise, the case draws the attention of the highest levels of the German government, as an SS Standartenführer, Oskar Huth, arrives to supervise the investigation. Archer soon finds himself in the middle of a power struggle between Huth and Gruppenführer Fritz Kellerman, Archer's boss and the head of police forces in Great Britain.

Archer soon discovers that the dead man was a British physicist named William Spode and that Spode was involved with the Resistance movement. This leads Archer to George Mayhew, a former colonel in the British Army who is organizing an operation designed to free the King from his prison in the Tower of London and spirit him away to neutral America. Archer also develops a romantic relationship with Barbara Barga, an American reporter whom he first met at the Spode murder scene and who appears involved in the mystery. Huth also reveals to Archer the reason for the high-level interest in the murder: Spode was part of a German military team working on developing an atomic bomb.

As his investigation proceeds, Archer finds the dangers increasing, as a subordinate is killed and Archer himself is nearly murdered by a member of the Resistance. Following a clue in the form of an elbow pivot for an artificial arm, Archer travels to a prisoner-of-war camp in Berkshire where inmates produce replacement limbs for war veterans. There he succeeds in capturing Spode's brother, John Spode, who lost his right arm while fighting the German invasion. Though Spode confesses readily to shooting his brother (who was dying of radiation poisoning), he commits suicide by ingesting a cyanide capsule before Archer can take him back to London. Learning that the German officer escorting him around the camp was a member of the Abwehr, Archer follows him back to London, where he discovers Mayhew conspiring with top Abwehr officials to free the King, an act that would humiliate the S.S. as the organization in charge of guarding him.

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