cover image Bad Actors

Bad Actors

Mick Herron. Soho Crime, $27.95 (360p) ISBN 978-1-64129-337-2

The disappearance of Sophie de Greer, a “superforecaster” who predicts voter reactions to British government policies, drives Herron’s terrific eighth Slough House novel (after 2021’s Slow Horses). Since de Greer might be a Russian plant, two important people want her found: Anthony Sparrow, the prime minister’s slimy enforcer, because he hired de Greer and wants to spare the government humiliation, and Diane Taverner, MI5’s ruthless chief, because she knows Sparrow will blame her if de Greer turns out to be a spy. The actual work of finding de Greer falls to the so-called slow horses of Slough House, “the fleapit to which Regent’s Park consigns failures, and where would-be stars of the British security service are living out the aftermath of their professional errors.” Every piece counts in the intricate jigsaw puzzle of a plot, but the book’s main strength is its dry, acerbic wit (Sparrow is “a homegrown Napoleon: nasty, British and short”). The result is an outstanding mix of arch humor, superb characterizations, and trenchant political observations. The forthcoming Apple TV adaptation of the series is sure to win Herron new fans. Agent: Juliet Burton, Juliet Burton Literary (U.K.). (May)