Slough House | Book Review

Slough House is the seventh novel in Mick Herron’s series about a department of agents MI5 doesn’t want but can’t fire. It is also the darkest and best installment. You can read it as a stand-alone, but trust me, you’re better off starting with Slow Horses and working your way through the series in order. The payoff will be huge.

The action begins with an assassination. We don’t know who or where at first, but when two former denizens of Slough House also end up dead, we learn both who and where and more importantly why. And learning why means the rest of Slough House is in danger, too. The plot is a race for time to see who gets to whom first.

I have two criteria for judging suspense novels like this: It must be so interesting that I want to turn the page to find out what happens next, and it must not tax my willing suspension of disbelief. Slough House is a believable page-turner, a success on both counts.

Moreover, Herron has drawn brilliant characters. Diana Taverner, MI5’s First Desk, is a cutthroat office politician. Disgraced politician Peter Judd is an oleaginous Macchiavellian whose way forward politically is as the power behind the throne. Catherine Standish is a white-knuckle recovering alcoholic who lends compassion, sanity, and a measure of organization to Slough House.

Then there’s her boss, Jackson Lamb—a streetwise Cold Warrior who smokes, drinks, flatulates, and insults readily and steadily, but also is the last face you want to see (or will see, period) if you mess with his Joes. Arthur Conan Doyle had Sherlock Holmes, and John Le Carre had George Smiley. Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb is one for the ages.

And the ending. If you’re not saying, “Don’t die” as you turn the last page, you haven’t been paying attention.

Highly recommended.

Book Reviewed
Mick Herron, Slough House (New York: SoHo Press, 2021).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

The Marleyborne Drop | Book Review

Mick Herron’s Joe Country comes out on June 11, 2019, and features the usual suspects from Slough House, where MI5 sends the incompetent agents it can’t fire outright but would like to resign. I eagerly anticipate its publication, as Herron is easily one of the best suspense writers currently in operation—and funny to boot.

The events of The Marleyborne Drop, a Slough House novella, take place between London Rules and Joe Country. Solomon Dortmund, a pensioned Cold War asset, thinks he has witnessed a drop—an exchange of intelligence between an asset and her foreign handler—and informs his own semi-retired handler, John Bachelor. Bachelor passes along the information to Alec Wicinski, an MI5 analyst, who on the sly queries the identity of one of the parties involved.

Dortmund winds up dead. Wicinski winds up disgraced (and headed to Slough House). Bachelor ends up defrauding the British government. But the asset gets a promotion and her foreign handler gets away scot free.

As per usual, Herron’s writing is a delight, and this little story keeps you turning pages. The ending left me feeling meh, however, which is why I’m giving the novella three stars. On the other hand, I look forward to seeing what happens to Alec Wicinski. If Joe Country builds on The Marleyborne Drop and makes sense of the ending, my review will be revised upward.

Book Reviewed
Mick Herron, The Marleyborne Drop: A Novella(New York: Soho Press, 2018).

P.S. If you liked my review, please click “Helpful” on my Amazon review page.

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