Thief-Taking in Wild | Spoiler-Free Review

Wild by Nathan Besser

5 Star Rating System 4 stars

Genre: Historical Fiction
Author: Nathan Besser
Published: September 2019
Publisher: Penguin Random House
Pages: 384 {paperback}

Review on Goodreads

A massive thank you to Penguin Random House for sending me a copy of this in exchange for an honest review!

Initial Thoughts Upon Finishing

Honestly, this was freaking fabulous. I am SO pleased that I decided to read it. Besser has had a wild time (pun intended) putting together this faux memoir and it’s a good laugh. It’s also a fascinating look into 18th century London, right on the turn of the century and all the grossness that that includes. I shall begin my crusade of recommending this to absolutely everyone.


This book is so different from anything else I’ve read. The author came across the historical figure of Jonathan Wild whilst researching something else entirely. He was a footnote in this other narrative, but a footnote that drew Besser’s attention and resulted in Wild.

Wild is a fascinating character whose lack of love in his childhood seemed to propel him towards a selfish life. From a young age, he learns how to get what he wants and how to step on others to make sure he gets there. He’s an incredibly ambitious and cunning character who is both destable and desperately interesting.

We follow Wild’s life as he changes jobs, falls in love and becomes the Thief-Taker General in London. This is accompanied by not only Wild’s narrative, but that of another character who adds a bit more depth to the story called Daniel DeFoe. It’s a very dreary and depressing picture painted of 18th century London but one that is made even more fascinating by the unexpected ways these desperate men will find ways to survive life.

Why I Liked It

The thing that really got me with this book was how fun it was to read. I wasn’t sure what I was expecting – in some ways I had, for no good reason, painted a picture of this being a Robin Hood story in my mind. I can assure you that it is not. Despite all the Robin Hood gifs I’m using.

This is a well-written tale of two men down on their luck whose stories intertwine and all the exciting misadventures they get up to. We meet infamous villains, inspiring prostitutes, unctious lords and povertised civilians. Between DeFoe and Wild, the stage is set for drama as the reader is equally thrilled and horrified at how low Wild will stoop for a coin and at how the hopeless ideas DeFoe conjures to earn money are.

There is so much thieving, conniving and evil plotting in these pages to keep anyone entertained. It’s a story about a bad person parading as a good one and getting away with it, and whenever is that not thrilling?


I would recommend this book to a wide sweep of people. If you like historical fiction, then you’ll enjoy the grimy setting of 18th century London. If you enjoy a mystery, you’ll delight at the unexpected twists and turns Wild takes to achieve his selfish goals. If you enjoy a contemporary, you’ll love the relationships that haphazardly present themselves in these pages. In short, this is a damn good book and wholly unexpected.

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Happy reading!

~~ Kirstie ~~


2 thoughts on “Thief-Taking in Wild | Spoiler-Free Review

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