A gripping thriller from the bestselling author of Munich and Fatherland.
"The first rocket will hit London in five minutes. You have six minutes to stop the second."
Rudi Graf has dreamt since childhood of sending a rocket to the moon. Instead, along with his friend Werner von Braun, he has helped create the world's most sophisticated weapon—the V2 ballistic missile, capable of delivering a one-ton warhead at three times the speed of sound.
In a desperate gamble to avoid defeat, Hitler orders 10,000 to be built.
Now, in the winter of 1944, Graf finds himself in a bleak seaside town in Occupied Holland. Haunted and disillusioned, he's tasked with firing the V2s at London. Nobody understands the volatile, deadly machine better than he does.
Kay Caton-Walsh is an officer in the WAAF. She has experienced first-hand the horror of a V2 strike. As the rockets rain down, she joins a unit of WAAFs on a mission to newly-liberated Belgium. Armed with little more than a slide rule and a few equations, the hope is that Kay and her colleagues can locate and destroy the launch sites.
But at this stage in the war it's hard to know who, if anyone, you can trust.
For every action on one side, there is an equal and opposite reaction on the other. As the death toll soars, the separate stories of Graf and Kay ricochet off one another, until in a final explosion of violence their destinies are forced together.
This engrossing novel set in late 1944 from Thriller Award winner Harris (Munich) finds Section Officer Kay Caton-Walsh, of the Women's Auxiliary Air Force, getting ready for the day after spending the night with her married lover and boss, Air Commodore Mike Templeton, in his London flat. Then a German V2 rocket damages Templeton's apartment building, leaving Kay with minor injuries. After the emergency responders mistake Kay for Templeton's wife, and the real Mrs. Templeton learns that she was erroneously reported hurt in the attack, Templeton begins to distance himself from Kay. That personal loss, coupled with Kay's direct experience of the V2's power, leads her to volunteer for a mission to Belgium, where she and several other women are to use their mathematical skills to trace the origin of a missile's flight by working backward from its trajectory and impact point. Once on the continent, Kay gets on the trail of a saboteur. As usual, Harris brings the past to life through vivid characterizations and clever plotting. Fans of superior historical fiction will be rewarded. 75,000-copy announced first printing.
Robert Harris delivers again
A gripping read from start to finish.
Excellent historical fiction, well researched.