Piece of Cake
Derek Robinson has been writing wartime ‘ripping yarns’ (his own words) for over 40 years now, and Piece of Cake is a welcome reissue of the opening adventure from his thrilling RAF quartet, first published back in 1983. It’s an epic tome covering the opening twelve months of World War Two, from the phony war in France to the hasty retreat back across the Channel and then the valiant stand against the might of the Luftwaffe in what became known as the Battle of Britain.
The book follows the exploits of the fictional Hornet squadron and its members, a group of men who work hard and play harder. Be warned, though, this story isn’t about one specific character. Indeed, just as you get to know a pilot, they are either chopped or killed; such is the nature of war in the air. Even though this is initially frustrating, you soon come to realise just how authentic Robinson’s storytelling is, and that this is exactly what it must have been like to be part of an RAF squadron on active service, never knowing who of your comrades would be alive from day to day. And, although the war proper for Hornet squadron doesn’t start until page 383, when it does come the rendition of the dogfights in the air are so gripping that you’ll feel like you are actually there, sat next to the pilot in his cramped Hurricane cockpit, as Messerschmitt 109s scream by spitting death from all points of the compass. All in all, this is a thoroughly entertaining and educational novel, and a must read for anyone interested in the RAF and how so few stood against so many.