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The Wreckage
by Michael Robotham

Release Date: 9th Jun 2011
Publisher: Little Brown
ISBN: 978 1 8474 4220 8
RRP: £16.99

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Spooks,an inconceivable amount of cash stolen from post-war Iraq and three damaged females...

The Wreckage opens midway into a Q&A session with a hitman named “the Courier”. It’s a tantalising bite-sized chunk of the mindset of a killer for hire that unfortunately Robotham doesn’t extend further. Just as obliquely, we are plunged into post-war Iraq: an uncomfortable place to be confronted with; at a time when the Americans are on their way out, the country is still in turmoil and reeling from the aftershocks of ousting Saddam. It is against this bleakly drawn backdrop that we meet tenacious journalist, Luca Terracini. Half Iraqi but raised American, Luca personifies the inner conflict between West and East; but it is his innate ability to find himself up to neck in a possible story of defrauding on a scale of half a billion US dollars that marks his card.

In London, meanwhile, Holly Knight is about to make a mistake. Another one. Unknowingly targeting retired copper, Vincent Ruiz, for a scam is not the brightest move the young woman has made in her wreckage of a life. Essentially a street rat; her life sits precariously on the edge. Her drug and grab on Ruiz however stupid, could be her saving grace as one of her previous victims, an investment banker, was in possession of sensitive information – a notebook. A notebook that dangerous people believe Holly now has. A sucker for a sweet face and lost causes, Ruiz puts his weighty contacts and skills to disentangling the knotty truth.

As the plot jumps between Baghdad and London, the pace quickens exponentially as the disparate characters chafe against unseen powers. As they are inextricably drawn together, they form a cohesive tale of conspiracy, fraud and the complicity of a certain US agency in cheating the Iraqi people out of funds to rebuild their country. But for the appearance of the softly spoken Joe O’Loughlin and the tough-as-old-boots Ruiz, you would hardly guess The Wreckage is by the same author. It is the grandiose of the plot; global in its scale, that sets it apart from previous titles: A clash of titans, combating for prevalence and jockeying for top position in a world where money is King. Robotham’s ubiquitous crisp style, bordering on the terse and clipped, is comfortingly familiar, whilst persistently driving the storyline to its inevitable conclusion. Underhandedness from the US and its abuse of the friendly (or gullible) UK government is as to be expected, the hitman is a walking cliché but the characterisation of Ruiz and O’Loughlin is wonderfully reassuring and his depiction of damaged women is second-to-none. It may not be my favourite Robotham title, but it should keep the old brain ticking over.

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