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Writing this whilst it is still fresh in my mind...





By Robert Harris


It is the winter of 1944.  On the Dutch coast a disillusioned German engineer goes about his duties without enthusiasm, preparing V2 rockets for firing at London, knowing he is fighting a war that is already lost.  In London, concerned that they have no way of countering the V2 threat, the Air Ministry authorises a new initiative to find and destroy the V2 launch sites...  


The story in V2 spans a five day period and is told from the point of view of two characters on the different sides of the battle.  Like Harris's other novels, this is a fictional account of historical events, and although it contains historical figures the two leads are fictional; the German scientist Rudi Graf, and British WAAF Kay Caton-Walsh. 


V2 is the third Robert Harris book I have read, and I would have to say it is the weakest by quite a way.  Whilst the historical side of the story is interesting and well researched - covering both the development, construction and operation of the V2 rockets as well as British photographic intelligence work at RAF Medmenham - the book doesn't really have a plot to underpin it.  Unlike Fatherland (with its quest to uncover a truth) or Enigma (which is a spy story), V2 is really just a sequence of events.


Quite a bit of the novel actually reminded me of Enigma, and not just because of it's war time setting.  Graf, though interesting, is really a watered down Tom Jericho; another intelligent, well educated character who seems to be on the edge of a breakdown, and as with Jericho it is questionable how much the character would really have been able to get away with, despite his position.  Kay Caton-Walsh is possibly a bit more rounded, but again I found some of the events she was caught up in stretched credulity.  Whether there was a better way to tell the same story I don't know, but some parts felt like padding and it sometimes came across as two or possibly three stories trying to work as one.


I got through the book quite quickly (for me!) mainly because of the factual side of the story, but the longer it went on the more I increasingly found myself wondering where the plot was! (the ending is somewhat contrived as well).


Overall, and despite some of the comments above, I did for the most part enjoy the book, but I suspect I would have enjoyed the next George Smiley I have to read more.


Interesting for the historical information, a bit light on story.




I have a suspicion someone else read this recently, but I cannot remember who!


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On 02/05/2022 at 10:20 PM, Raven said:

V2 is the third Robert Harris book I have read, and I would have to say it is the weakest by quite a way. 



I've read a lot of Harris's work and while I rate him quite highly, I do feel like his most recent output is his weakest. For me his best work is the Cicero trilogy which feels like a lot of time and effort went into writing. 

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