Red Army Faction Blues, by Ada Wilson, Route at £8.99

A coalition government. A ruling elite deeply mistrusted by the young especially. Riots in the streets and heavy-handed police tactics.

And behind the windows of his tall tower, an unscrupulous newspaper publisher feeds the public’s anxiety, discomfort, fear and shame, blowing up every edgy event into confrontational black and white..

It could be contemporary London, Athens or Rome. It could be the discredited empire of Rupert Murdoch’s News International Corporation.

But in Red Army Faction Blues, the place is West Berlin and the time is 1967, and the publisher is Axel Springer.

It’s a factional novel in which real Cold War events and characters, including members of the Baader-Meinhof gang, are described and recounted by one Peter Urbach, a West German government agent provocateur, tasked with infiltrating radical student groups and setting them up for the security police.

The second part of this short book is set in London before and after the fall of the Berlin Wall and involves Urbach, in hiding from those he betrayed, searching for Fleetwood Mac guitar hero Peter Green, whom he once met in West Berlin.

Interesting though the passages about the tormented guitarist are, I am not convinced the novel’s two halves make a coherent whole. I am inclined to think the second half tells us more about the interests of the author, Yorkshire-based journalist Ada Wilson, a musician from the 1970s.

Nevertheless, Red Army Faction Blues is not the sort of novel you expect to come out of West Yorkshire. So hoorah for a stylishly-written book that has nothing to do with dry stone walls, village bobbies, quaint Pakistani corner shop grocers or the Yorkshire Ripper.

Red Army Faction Blues has the kind of lean, mean sparseness that would please Elmore Leonard. It has been praised by Yorkshire writer David – West Riding – Peace no less. Now he has written about bobbies, corner shops and the Yorkshire Ripper. Nevertheless, he said: “Shows the power of the novel to illuminate a moment in history; the moment when terrorism became the new rock ’n’ roll, the paths that took us there and the paths we have taken since.”

When Peace is with you, you have a lot going for you. Ian McMillan, another Yorkshire writer, has also praised the book in his newspaper profile of Wilson, noting the novel’s “multi-layered realism, achieved through placing actual people and places under fiction’s microscope.”

I would have thought that accolade belongs to Frederick Forsyth who wrote The Day Of The Jackal, based on attempts to assassinate France’s President de Gaulle, and The Odessa File, about the involvement of Nazi war criminals in post-war West German business and politics.

This novel does not appear in Ada Wilson’s bibliography, but Hitler’s Children, Jillian Becker’s hard-hitting chronicle of Baader-Meinhof, does.

The Red Army Faction or Faktion was the calling card of the Baader-Meinhof group of self-styled armed political revolutionaries – they killed people – that evolved from the anarchic idealism of West Berlin’s Free University.

For this mixture of idealists, communards and radical chi-chi rich kids yearning for danger and excitement in post-war West Germany, deeply ashamed of its Nazi past, had traded in real freedom for consumerism and had become a docile, unquestioning ally of the United States.

Take it from there.

Up until a few years ago about the only things associated with Pontefract were racing, the castle where Richard II was starved to death and the former practice of the late, disgraced architect John Poulson.

But the Yorkshire town is also the home of Route, the publisher of this book. Hoorah for that too.