cover image Dead Lions

Dead Lions

Mick Herron. Soho Crime, $25.95 (352p) ISBN 978-1-61695-225-9

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. Agent: Juliet Burton, Juliet Burton Literary Agency (U.K.) (May)