Review: V2, by Robert Harris

Robert Harris is back. Having made his reputation with Second World War thrillers such as Enigma and Fatherland, Harris is on familiar territory here and knows how to tell a good story. I read the book in two days. It’s actually two stories in parallel. One features a young woman working for the British, trying to locate the elusive launchpads for the V2 rockets that were causing deaths and damage in London in late 1944. The other story is about one of the German engineers who helped create the V2 but has grown disenchanted. The three main problems with the book — no spoilers here — are these: What the German engineer reveals about the British plan to locate the launchpads is actually not a big surprise, and one wonders why no one on the Allied side thought of it. The ‘good German’ role is itself becoming a tired trop in fiction, as it surely is here, though at least we’re shown someone who notices the tens of thousands of slave labourers employed to make the V2 rockets but shows almost no sympathy for them. And finally, the very last page of the book — really? I don’t buy it.