cover image The Secret Hours

The Secret Hours

Mick Herron. Soho Crime, $27.99 (384p) ISBN 978-1-641-29521-5

Herron departs from his bestselling Slough House series for a riveting standalone thriller that combines modern political machinations with Cold War–era spy craft. New leadership in the British parliament results in the official cancellation of Monochrome, an infamously ineffective two-year-old inquiry meant to expose historical misconduct by MI5. Griselda Fleet and Malcolm Kyle, the civil servants who led the inquiry, are devastated: the embarrassment of Monochrome has all but eliminated their chances for future employment. Not long after Monochrome’s cancellation, however, a stranger slips Malcolm an official file revealing an off-the-books Cold War–era MI5 operation that ended badly in 1994 Berlin. Griselda and Malcolm begin to investigate, and then testimony from the agent assigned to surveil Berlin station chief Brinsley Miles uncovers a new conspiracy to infiltrate British intelligence—which the once-disgraced civil servants are now uniquely positioned to thwart. Herron toggles between present-day London and Cold War–era Berlin, crafting memorable, morally complex characters along the way, without sacrificing any of his trademark humor (the book’s opening sentence: “The worst smell in the world is a dead badger”). Espionage fans of all stripes will devour this exemplary outing. (Sept.)