V2: A Novel of World War II by Robert Harris

Can this be only the second novel by Robert Harris set during the Second World War? Surprisingly, yes. His alternative history, Fatherland (1992), envisaged postwar survival for Hitler. Archangel (1998) depicted the spirit of Stalin reincarnated in a son. Munich (2017) reimagined the lead-up to war. Only Enigma (1995), about the Bletchley codebreakers, takes place in the period.

Bletchley features briefly in V2, which covers five days in November 1944 when the Germans’ fearsome rocket bombs rained down on London. The earlier V1s could be seen and heard before silently descending, giving time to take cover. Vengeance Weapon Two struck without warning. Sixty-five seconds after takeoff its fuel supply was cut, its one-ton warhead primed. “The unpowered rocket was now ballistic, following the same parabolic curve as a stone flung from a catapult.” Its impact was horrendous.

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