Picks and Pans Review: Ss-Gb

updated 04/02/1979 at 01:00 AM EST

originally published 04/02/1979 01:00AM

by Len Deighton

Rewriting World War II history seems to be the chic thing in novels of late. This time the Nazis have successfully invaded Britain, killed Churchill and set up an occupying force. Deighton, who has written other thrillers of lovely intricacy (The Ipcress File, for instance), gets somewhat less momentum going here. It's not vital that he doesn't explain how the Battle of Britain was lost (his last nonfiction book was about the Spitfire pilots). But the British seem much too civil to the Germans, treating them more like visiting scholars than despotic conquerors, and the nooks and crannies of the plot (about atomic-weapons research and the liberation of King George VI) are exposed rather early. The only World War II novel that seems left now is one in which the war never happens: It would be called The Beginning of the Great Era of Unemployment for Writers of Fiction. (Knopf, $9.95)

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