Oh I had such an excellent idea to binge read the Slough Horses series by Mick Herron. It’s been a great way to spend this week of the pandemic, being retired and self-isolated as I am. Now I’ve finished book #4, Spook Street, published in 2017. I mention the date because the plots are very contemporary. They go back to 2010, but it’s one book a year from 2015 on to 2021 with one in the works for 2022.
By Mick Herron
2017 / 320 pages
Read by Gerard Doyle 10h 32m
Rating: A – crime (spy)
Exquisitely developed these stories have definite thriller as well as thinking aspects. The characters grow on you with their individuality – especially the inimitable Jacob Lamb with his “stunningly inept collection of secret agents” as one reviewer called them. The dialogue keeps me laughing out loud, sometimes until tears. I am really hard pressed to consider which of his strengths, plot, characters, humor, or just plain story-telling (structure), gives place to Herron in my top 10 mystery writers. I think it might be the humor which puts it over the top for me but I have a really warm spot for the characters and the writing is top-notch.
The chapters in this series are long, but comprised of smaller scenes which rotate through a number of characters and plot threads often having cliff-hanger endings. I would recommend reading these in order because there is an overarching plot with a lot of character development.
Spook Street opens with an outrageous and deliberate shopping mall explosion in which many young people are killed. Meanwhile, River Cartwright, one of the spooks of Slough House, is concerned about the well-being of his aging grandfather who was a top-notch agent during the Cold War.
Lots of twists and turns here as well as some very intricately plotted thriller scenes but as usual the backbone of Herron’s writing is character and dialogue – his characters can be drop-dead funny as well as deadly.
Praise for Spook Street
Winner of the 2017 CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger for Best Thriller
Shortlisted for the CWA Gold Dagger for Best Crime Novel
An Irish Times Best Book of 2017
The Guardian Best Books of 2017
A Seattle Times Notable Book of 2017
A Boston Globe Best Book of 2017
Nominated for the 2018 Barry Award for Best Thriller
Shortlisted for the British Book Award for Crime & Thriller Book of the Year
Longlisted for the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award
Winner of the 2018 CrimeFest Last Laugh Awar