cover image This Is What Happened

This Is What Happened

Mick Herron. Soho Crime, $23.95 (272p) ISBN 978-1-61695-861-9

At the start of this beautifully written and ingeniously plotted standalone from Herron (Nobody Walks), 26-year-old mail room employee Maggie Barnes is trying hard not to get caught late one night in her 27-story London office building. Harvey Wells, an MI5 agent, has recruited her to upload some spyware on her company’s computer network from a flash drive. Adrift in the metropolis, Maggie has zero self-esteem and only the slimmest of personal ties to anyone, so this represents her chance to do something significant. Suffice it to say that her mission goes sideways. What at first appears to be a tale of spycraft and intrigue turns out to be something quite different—a disturbing portrait of contemporary England, with its “drip-drip-drip of sour resentment” (pre- and post-Brexit) and the palpable anomie of London. Most important is the fraught relationship between the pitiable Maggie and the manipulative Harvey, a man of great anger and bitterness. This dark thriller is rife with the deadpan wit and trenchant observation that Herron’s readers relish. [em]Agent: Juliet Burton, Juliet Burton Literary Agency (U.K.) (Jan.) [/em]