Where do spies who are washed up, get exposed, screw up an operation, or drink too much go? According to Mick Herron they go to Slough House, an organization in the heart of London that takes in all the broken down and no longer useful spies from MI-5. There these so called “slow horses” wait their turn for redemption while doing seemingly meaningless and tedious work alongside others who share the same fate or are put out to pasture.
River Cartwright, who was blamed for a high profile training exercise going wrong, hopes that he can redeem himself quickly so he can move back to MI-5, but Jackson Lamb, the head of Slough House, quickly disabuses him of this idea and assures Cartwright that he will never leave. Instead Cartwright is tasked with transcribing cell phone conversations, the most tedious and mind numbing task imaginable. But when a young Muslim man is abducted, and the kidnappers threaten to live stream his decapitation if their demands are not met, Cartwright sees a way that he might redeem himself. He begins to investigate whether there is a connection between the kidnappers and Richard Hobden, a disgraced right wing journalist. Racing to avert the execution, Cartwright and the spies of Slough House, must set aside their own agendas and collaborate in order to survive.
Herron won the CWA Gold Dagger award for this espionage series, and it is well deserved. Herron’s style is laconic, with a hint of bitterness. It is clear that the characters he has created are failures, with very little to redeem them and yet, there is something tender and almost loving in the way Herron teases out something from each one of them that makes you identify and root for them. Although there are no “heroes” at Slough House, there are strong protagonists who must come together regardless of their competing interests and share their skills and knowledge in order to work together as a team. It is a remarkable achievement that Herron makes this work, while keeping you on your toes throughout! I have the next book in the series queued up on my Kindle and am looking forward to reading the next installment of the ‘slow horses” of Slough House!
Brenda’s Rating: ****(4 Out Of 5 Stars)
Recommend this book to: Marian, Ken and Sharon
Book Study Worthy? Sure!
Read in ebook format.