cover image Slough House

Slough House

Mick Herron. Soho Crime, $27.95 (312p) ISBN 978-1-64129-236-8

British author Herron’s superb seventh Slough House novel (after 2019’s Joe Country) opens with an unidentified woman’s assassination whose significance gradually becomes clear in this darkly satiric update on the “slow horses,” spies who have each made a colossal mistake and have been assigned to MI5’s Slough House, a kind of purgatory where they’ll spend “the rest of forever in a mist of thwarted ambition.” A taut, complex plot unfolds through a host of perspectives, including that of team leader Jackson Lamb, who’s callous, politically incorrect, but loyal to his “joes.” The slow horses are being tailed. Sid Baker, a former team member believed to be dead, reappears. Peter Judd, a highly unscrupulous political figure, tries to insinuate the private sector into MI5. And Putin’s Russia has “declared war on the British secret service.” Herron does a magnificent job keeping the assorted narrative balls aloft in a story that’s often gripping and even more often hilarious. This entry should garner him a slew of new American readers. Agent: Juliet Burton, Juliet Burton Literary. (U.K.) (Feb.)