THE WRECKAGE, Michael Robotham

Australian and UK cover

Although it features a couple of characters familiar to readers of his earlier novels, Michael Robotham’s seventh book is something of a departure from its predecessors; more political in content and also more of an international thriller. In Baghdad we meet Luca Terracini an American journalist investigating a series of bank robberies that no one else seems terribly interested in, despite the enormous sums of money involved and the sheer number of robberies. Meanwhile in London when retired policeman Vincent Ruiz witnesses a young girl being hit by her boyfriend he plays the good Samaritan; a decision he regrets when one of his most precious keepsakes goes missing. At the same time the wife of an English bank executive reports her husband missing. In a complex but thoroughly riveting plot these disparate stories eventually intertwine in an all-too credible tale of corruption on a grand scale and the lengths people will go to hide it.

The story unfolds in short chapters alternating between the two locations where we learn more details about the people and events going on and, if you’re anything like me, try to work out where the connections are going to be. Although this is definitely a plot-driven thriller, the depth of the story comes in part from the large and interesting cast of characters. Luca, atypically, lives outside the protective ‘Green Zone’ in Baghdad and seems determined to be a different kind of journalist than the fly-in/fly-out type the locals are used to and I was soon drawn into wanting to know what would make someone behave so recklessly. Of course being this kind of character he has the scope to introduce us to a far wider range of people than we might otherwise meet and these people, American contractors, locals, UN workers etc all provide what feels like real insight into the situation in Iraq, the good and bad, without the book getting bogged down in any particular particular political stance.

In London there are another group of interesting people to meet. Robotham’s fans will be familiar with Vincent Ruiz but the good thing about these books is that they are only very loosely related so there’s no requirement to have read the earlier novels. Vincent is getting ready for his daughter’s wedding when his plans are interrupted by his good Samaritan act and in trying to retrieve the stolen keepsake he wants to pass on to his daughter he meets Holly.  She is someone who has been forced to develop the traits and skills required to survive when life treats you very unkindly, but she brings out the protector in Vincent despite her treatment of him. Elizabeth North, the woman whose husband has gone missing, is in some ways the polar opposite of Holly, having had a privileged life until the present moment and she has to learn to be tougher to find out what has happened to her husband and to protect her son and unborn baby. I found her a particularly credible and compelling character.

US cover

THE WRECKAGE is a very current book, delving into such issues as the current state of play in Iraq so many years after the war began, the fallout from the global financial crisis on the world’s banking institutions, and the bizarre combination of hard slog and good luck required to gather intelligence about terrorists and their evil plans in these uncertain times. While the story is certainly fast-paced and full of action and suspense, Robotham has managed to stay clear of sensationalism, providing a more thoughtful and thought-provoking book than the average thriller.

THE WRECKAGE was released in Australia on April 28 and is due for release in the UK on June 9 and the US on June 16.

Other reviews of Michael Robotham’s books here at Fair Dinkum are THE NIGHT FERRY, SHATTER and BLEED FOR ME and you might also want to check out Michael’s responses to the Fair Dinkum Baker’s Dozen Author Interview.

My rating: 4/5 stars
Author website:
Publisher: Mullholland Books [2011]
ISBN: 9780316126403 (US version)
Length: 435 pages
Format: Uncorrected proof
Source: Provided to Fair Dinkum Crime for honest review