In this standalone spy thriller, Mick Herron, creator of Slough House, introduced Tom Bettany, a man with a violent past and only one thing to live for: Avenging his son's death.
Tom Bettany is working at a meat processing plant in France when he gets a voicemail from an Englishwoman he doesn’t know telling him that his estranged 26-year-old son is dead—Liam Bettany fell from his London balcony, where he was smoking pot.
Now for the first time since he cut all ties years ago, Bettany returns home to London to find out the truth about his son’s death. Maybe it’s the guilt he feels about losing touch with Liam that’s gnawing at him, or maybe he’s actually put his finger on a labyrinthine plot, but either way he’ll get to the bottom of the tragedy, no matter whose feathers he has to ruffle. But more than a few people are interested to hear Bettany is back in town, from incarcerated mob bosses to those in the highest echelons of MI5. He might have thought he’d left it all behind when he first skipped town, but nobody ever really walks away.
In this superb thriller, CWA Gold Dagger Award winner Herron returns to the secretive world of British intelligence featured in his two Slough House novels, Slow Horses and Dead Lions. Thomas Bettany, a former undercover specialist who came apart after his wife's death, is doing menial labor in a European slaughterhouse, estranged from everyone including his grown son, Liam. When Liam falls to his death from the balcony of his London flat, apparently under the influence of a new drug called muskrat, Bettany returns to England to find out what really happened. His quest leads him to the shadowy Vincent Driscoll, head of the software-design firm Liam worked for, and to the bizarre Dame Ingrid Tearney, head of the Intelligence Service, who is either worried that Bettany will discover something better kept under wraps or else wants Bettany to do some dirty work on her behalf. Well-drawn characters complement plotting that's convoluted but never opaque or formulaic. Herron may be the most literate, and slyest, thriller writer in English today.
Beautifully written book that should be required reading for anyone thinking about becoming a spy or working for intelligence agencies! I have a lot of sympathy for people like the main character and his family, but wonder if it was worth it. Are people at the top really that corrupt and intoxicated by their power?