EXCERPT: The study remained like a showroom in a vacant property – books, chairs, curtains; the shelf with its odd collection of trophies: a glass globe, a hunk of concrete, a lump of metal that had been a Luger; the desk with its sheet of blotting paper, like something out of Dickens, and the letter opener, which was an actual stiletto, and had once belonged to Beria – and if David Cartwright had left secrets in his wake they’d be somewhere in that room, on those shelves, among a billion other words. River didn’t know if he really believed that, but he knew for sure that he didn’t know he didn’t, and if River thought that way others might too, and act upon the possibility. Spook secrets were dangerous to friends and foes alike, and the old man had made plenty of both down the years. He could see one of either breed breaking a lock, finessing a window; could see them working round the study, looking for clues. If that was happening, River needed to stop it. Any trail his dead grandfather had left, no one was going to follow but him.
ABOUT ‘SLOUGH HOUSE’: Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records.
Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening.
With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass.
But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.
MY THOUGHTS: I have never read Mick Herron previously, although I had heard a lot of great things about his writing, and they are all true. I am not known for enjoying spy thrillers, but Slough House is not your traditional spy thriller. Its characters are misfits, those who have failed in some way, who the hierarchy would prefer to forget even exist. Slough House could best be described as a halfway house, but the question would be, halfway to where?
There is a lot of dialogue in Slough House, which I usually don’t like, but Herron’s wonderful one-liners had me almost hysterical at times. His dialogue is also clever in other ways. He has used reasonably recent events as a background for the plot in Slough House, although it was completed prior to the advent of Covid, so there’s no reference to social distancing or the pandemic.
Slough House is #7 in the series, so I had no knowledge of any of the characters going into this book, something I intend to remedy. I became quite fond of this bunch of misfits who, although they outwardly show disdain and contempt for one another, have an underlying and undeniable deep loyalty. I need to know how they got to where they are, what has shaped, or misshapen them. They are a fascinating bunch for whom I feel great affection, and therefore I am going to start this series from the beginning. In fact, I am going to read everything this author has written.
Herron writes with wicked imagery, sardonic wit and black humour, which I love. I rank him right up there with Adrian McKinty and Ken Bruen.
#contemporaryfiction #crime #humour #spythriller
THE AUTHOR: Mick Herron was born in Newcastle and has a degree in English from Balliol College, Oxford. He is the author of seven books in the Slough House series as well as a mystery series set in Oxford featuring Sarah Tucker and/or P.I. Zoë Boehm. He now lives in Oxford and works in London.
DISCLOSURE: Thank you to John Murray Press via Netgalley for providing a digital ARC of Slough House by Mick Herron for review. All opinions expressed in this review are entirely my own personal opinions.
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