V2 by Robert Harris [7/10]

Robert Harris is congenitally unable to write anything that is not immersive entertainment, be it contemporary or historical, and in “V2,” he returns (after a detour into the 15 century with The Second Sleep, see my review here) to World War II. As Hitler rushes to pound London with Werhner von Braun’s revolutionary V2 ballistic missile, the war’s outcome seems to be in the balance. As he usually does, Harris immersively plonks us in the skins of two opposing souls, a brilliant, jaded German rocket engineer supervising launches from the Dutch coast, while an enterprising WAAF English woman rushes to Belgium to join a ragtag team attempting to triangulate the V2 launch sites. Of all of Harrris’s sophisticated cleanly written novels, V2 reminded me most of his Pompeii. As in that historical novel, we know the outcome of V2 but the strength of narration and tone sweeps us forward in excited thrall. Simply splendid.

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