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Winner of the 2013 CWA Gold Dagger Award
A BBC Front Row best crime novel of the year
A Times crime and thriller book of the year
'The finest new crime series this millennium' Mail on Sunday
Dickie Bow is not an obvious target for assassination.
But once a spook, always a spook. And Dickie was a talented streetwalker back in the day, before he turned up dead on a bus. A shadow. Good at following people, bringing home their secrets.
Dickie was in Berlin with Jackson Lamb. Now Lamb's got his phone, and on it the last secret Dickie ever told, and reason to believe an old-time Moscow-style op is being run in the Service's back-yard.
In the Intelligence Service purgatory that is Slough House, Jackson Lamb's crew of back-office no-hopers is about to go live . . .
In the opening chapter of Herron's funny, clever sequel to 2010's Slow Horses (2010), low-level British spy, Dickie Bow, dies on a bus to Oxford of apparently natural causes. To Jackson Lamb, the thoroughly unlikable head of Slough House ("the spooks' equivalent of Devil's Island," to which disgraced or out-of-favor British spies are exiled), Bow's death plus a cryptic, unsent text keyed into his cellphone (the single word "cicadas") suggest Russian intrigue, perhaps tied to a long-dormant, possibly mythical, spy named Alexander Popov. Meanwhile, two Slough House operatives are seconded to the job of protecting a Russian billionaire, Arkady Pashkin, in London for a nebulous meeting. The complex plot drags a bit in the middle, as Herron gets quite a number of balls in the air, but once he does, the narrative picks up real steam and becomes genuinely thrilling. The novel is equally noteworthy for its often lyrical prose.