London, 1944

By 1944, the main Blitz on London by German bomber planes was long over. However, the city had suffered severe damage and loss of life as a result of the campaign. Britain's victory in the Battle of Britain had prevented German bombers from entering British airspace, but this had encouraged German engineers to develop remote controlled missiles that did not require manned planes to target Britain.

 

Family eating in a bombed out East London house
Creative Commons AttributionFamily eating in a bombed out East London house - Credit: Paul Townsend

 

The "Robot Blitz", or "Baby Blitz", consisted of offensives by V-1 and V-2 rockets. While the V-1 rockets could be heard for about ten seconds before they struck, the V-2 rocket travelled faster than the speed of sound, meaning that there was no warning of an impending strike. Londoners lived in constant fear of sudden destruction between the first attack on September 8th, 1944 and Victory in Europe Day on May 8th, 1945.

 

 

Milkman delivering milk amid ruined houses
Creative Commons AttributionMilkman delivering milk amid ruined houses - Credit: Flickr, Jhayne

 

 

In total, 1,402 V-2s struck London. The estimated death toll from V-2 attacks on London is 2,754, with another 6,523 injured. In one incident, a missile struck the Rex Cinema in Antwerp on December 16, 1944, killing 567 people. This incident may well be the attack depicted in the novel's conclusion.

French Riviera

The Herman Goerring Casino is located on the French Riviera, on the south-east Mediterranean coastline of France. The area had been recently liberated by American parachute troops and 60,000 American and French ground troops, and it quickly reestablished itself as a popular resort, with the Cannes Film Festival being launched there in 1946.

 

Map of French Riviera
Public DomainMap of French Riviera - Credit: Gilbert Bochenek

 

The area has hot, dry summers and mild winters, enjoying about 300 days of sunshine per year. With the rise of the railways, it became a vacation spot for British and Russian aristocracy and royalty in the 19th century. It was also noted for its artistic population, with Picasso, Matisse and Edith Wharton spending time there.

 

French Riviera
Public DomainFrench Riviera - Credit: The Library of Congress

 

The area now has a popuation of over two million, drawn from around 163 different nationalities.