What happens when an old spook loses his mind? Does the Service have a retirement home for those who know too many secrets but don’t remember they’re secret? Or does someone take care of the senile spy for good?
These are the paranoid concerns of David Cartwright, a Cold War–era operative and one-time head of MI5 who is sliding into dementia, and questions his grandson, River, must figure out answers to now that the spy who raised him has started to forget to wear pants. But River, himself an agent at Slough House, MI5’s outpost for disgraced spies, has other things to worry about. A bomb has detonated in the middle of a busy shopping center and killed forty innocent civilians. The “slow horses” of Slough House must figure out who is behind this act of terror before the situation escalates.
In Herron's terrific, and terrifically funny, fourth Slough House novel (after 2016's Real Tigers), London's intelligence teams are on full alert after a suicide bomber kills dozens in a mall. But at Slough House, the home of British spies put out to pasture, the immediate need is to investigate the possible murder of one of its own, River Cartwright, apparently shot while seeing to his grandfather David Cartwright, a former powerful member of the Service, now a paranoid old man. Those in charge quickly figure out the people responsible for the bombing but don't understand the motive. Meanwhile, the Slough House team, led by the despicable Jackson Lamb, tries to figure out who would go after River. The search leads to France and a recently torched commune, an odd m nage of Americans, Russians, and children. The two plot lines slowly converge amid a heady mixture of deadpan humor, deft characterizations, and acute insight ("A loose bullet rips a hole in normality"). The title refers to a suspicious state of mind: "When you lived on Spook Street you wrapped up tight: watched every word, guarded every secret."
Good plot, great suspense
I’ve now read all but 2 of this series, and I love them all. Each “slow horse” is so unique, and what I wouldn’t give to work with Jackson Lamb!
Can’t get enough
I’m a very fast reader. In order to slow myself down, to enjoy every bit of dialog, or writing, to slow the plot’s advance, I distract myself with something. But then I return, eager for it all to continue..
Ingenious plot, but slightly far fetched.