Mini Book Review: ‘Wild Flowers’ by Richard Robinson

I have noticed that spy fiction has increasingly eschewed the glossiness and glamour of Spooks and James Bond. Protagonists are often dysfunctional, awkward and just winging it.  In this vein, Richard Robinson has proved himself a worthy peer to Mick Herron with his espionage novel, Wild Flowers

The story is set in a grimy, bleak 1990s, seemingly before the Cool Britannia era.  M15 rookie Jones is trapped inside a container on a cargo ship.  His mission; to retrieve a cache of weapons stolen from terrorists in Northern Ireland. Trailing him is sociopathic mercenary Joseph Armstrong, whose shady employer is intent on an ethnic cleansing.  Back in London, Jones’ friends and colleagues begin a race against time to save him and perhaps countless others. 

Robinson’s writing is taut, smart and very funny.  He adds shades of warmth to the brutal high-stakes world he portrays.  His characters are layered and very human, even the nefarious Armstrong, traumatised by military service in the Balkans.  This book is part action movie, part dark comedy, and part political thriller.  The sum of its parts is a highly compelling read which, I imagine, would be easily adaptable for another medium.