*Now a major TV series starring Gary Oldman*
'The new king of the spy thriller' Mail on Sunday
In the Intelligence Service purgatory that is Slough House, where spies mockingly called the slow horses are sent to finish what is left of their careers, their boss Jackson Lamb is on his way Oxford. A former spook has turned up dead on a bus.
Not an obvious target for assassination, Dickie Bow was a talented streetwalker back in the day. Good at following people, bringing home their secrets. Dickie was in Berlin with Jackson Lamb. Now Lamb's got his phone, on it the last secret Dickie ever told, and reason to believe an old-time Moscow-style op is being run in the Intelligence Service's back-yard.
Once a spook, always a spook, and Dickie was one of their own. To unearth Dickie's dying secret Jackson Lamb and his crew of no-hopers is about to go live.
'Mick Herron is an incredible writer' Mark Billingham
'The spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller's Catch-22' Financial Times
APPLE BOOKS REVIEW
Mick Herron’s Inside Story: With this book, I was being deliberately nostalgic. In a way I wanted to write a proper Cold War book, so I brought lots of old skeletons out of cupboards. As a character expresses in the book: ‘The Cold War is a natural state of being’, and we are edging back towards it once again. I’m letting the characters speak their own minds, but there does seem to be a certain amount of truth in it today.”
During my lifetime, the points where there hasn’t been this tension between East and West didn’t seem to last very long. The Wall went down and then, five minutes later, we were all at each other’s throats again. So it’s sad, but true. The state of the world is always going to be dependent on everybody being sane, balanced and well-intentioned, and that just doesn’t happen in terms of leaders.”
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.