Fresh Blood

Name: Matthew Richardson

Title of Book: My Name is Nobody

'‘My Name is Nobody’ also shows what a complicated and terrifying world we live in.'

‘I know a secret. A secret that changes everything…’ Words spoken by Ahmed Yousef in Istanbul to Solomon Vine and Gabriel Wilde. After the brief interrogation Solomon gets word from London that Yousef is to be set free. The order is from on high and not to be questioned. Solomon does not like the decision. After pondering the order, Solomon goes back to speak to Yousef, only to find him shot. Yousef is whisked away and Solomon suspended.

Under investigation, Solomon Vine is not one for inaction and his chance comes from the man who recruited him, Cosmo Newton who is on the trail of a mole. His old friend, Gabriel has vanished and it is thought that Gabriel has turned against his own country. With Newton’s help, Vine can try and get to the real reason why he was set up in Istanbul. As he uncovers more and more, Solomon feels that the truth will not only destroy others, but him as well.

It is always difficult to review a spy novel as one is always worried about giving anything away - like the proverbial spy, I need to watch my step and mind what I say!

‘My Name is Nobody’ is a wonderful example of the spy novel, wheels within wheels as to how the whole industry works – or at least, how we are led to believe it works! You can never take anything at face value. As with anything to do with espionage, the clue is to decipher what people mean by what they are NOT saying, rather than what comes out of their mouth.

Vine feels he does the right thing for his country, yet at the same time he knows that his position allows him to push the boundaries. As Richardson quotes in his novel, ‘who is spying on the spies’? Richardson writes beyond his years and delivers a very even performance, especially when dealing with the relationship between Solomon, Gabriel and Rose. Despite this, as becoming a spook, I felt that at the end of the book I really was none the wiser as to how Solomon Vine ticked.

Richardson made sure I never felt as though I was on certain ground as the landscape of his novel continued to shift and change. This is a dense novel and one that needs your attention. It cannot be skimmed and Richardson certainly packs his novel so that it didn’t flounder or sag. ‘My Name is Nobody’ also shows what a complicated and terrifying world we live in.

Richardson delivers a nuanced performance amidst his small cast of characters. I hope I haven’t given anything away, yet wetted your appetite to read this book. ‘My Name is Nobody’ is a strong beginning to what appears to be a promising writing career.

Reviewed by: C.S.

CrimeSquad Rating

Fresh Blood Questionnaire

1) ‘My Name is Nobody’ is an espionage novel and includes a number of different organisations and methods of hiding secrets such as hidden emails and cryptic clues. Have you or are you working in this line of business or has the espionage genre always fascinated you?
My professional background is in politics. But the espionage genre has always fascinated me. My favourite thrillers are ones which combine the worlds of politics and espionage, taking the reader behind the scenes and showing what life is like in the corridors of power. Writers like Frederick Forsyth, John le Carré and Robert Harris. When I set out to write My Name is Nobody, I wanted to write something in that tradition.
2) People felt that the ‘spy novel’ was dead in the water at the end of the Cold War, but new threats are now present in the Middle East. Do you feel the new crisis we are living today, alongside radicalisation and the Internet, has made it so much difficult for the intelligence services what with everyday people now becoming soldiers? How do you feel it has impacted on the espionage genre?
I think the current geopolitical climate does make it harder for spy writers. The Cold War had a very clear divide, and the chance to create fascinating and complex protagonists on either side of that divide. But anyone who said that the age of the spy thriller is over has been proved wrong over the last decade or so. Recently we’ve seen a major resurgence both in fiction and in TV and film. Today’s challenges are different from those of the Cold War, and force thriller writers to be more creative in how they tackle them. But that can be a good thing.
3) Solomon Vine is a man on his own trying to find the truth after being set up for an incident. What was it about Solomon that drew you to him to give him centre stage?
I wanted to create a character that was brilliantly analytical and yet broken emotionally. He can solve everything except his own feelings, and that contradiction intrigued me. While he has the brain of an analyst, he is also no slouch in the field either, setting him apart from other spy protagonists.
4) How tricky was it to keep your plot going with such a small cast of characters?
It was a challenge. But I really wanted to retain a clear sense of the intensity of Westminster. People call it the ‘Westminster Village’ and it does have that ‘villagey’ feel to it. My task was to try and write a small-town thriller set in the heart of the world’s most global city. Doing that meant keeping the cast list small, but giving them history with each other and watching those histories play out and shape their actions.
5) What are you planning for your next novel?
The second novel will hopefully be out around the middle of next year. I am working on edits as we speak. So watch this space!
6) Much is made of you producing a novel at the young age of 26. Did you always want to write? What one piece of advice would you give novice writers after your journey becoming published?
Yes, I always wanted to write. My one piece of advice would be to keep persisting. Producing a book takes a long time. The one thing that will get you through is never giving up.
7) Are you a fan of crime fiction? If so, what are the top three crime novels that have made a lasting impression on you and you would wish to have on a deserted island?
The Ghost - Robert Harris. This is the book that made me want to become a thriller writer. Harris is one of my heroes, with a prose style to die for and a range that few others can match. ‘The Ghost’ combines politics and espionage, with a fantastic twist.

The Thirty-Nine Steps - John Buchan. Probably the most famous espionage thriller of all time, and among the very best. Taut, fast and set against a historical backdrop that makes it endlessly fascinating.

The Partner - John Grisham. Grisham is arguably my favourite thriller writer working today. ‘The Partner’ is up there with anything he’s written. Grisham is the master of openings, and this one doesn’t disappoint. And the twist at the end is perfectly spun.