Mick Herron’s Slough House series of novels has deepened as it has gone along.
The dark cynicism of Jackson Lamb—one of the great spy characters—seeps into the whole narrative.
This, the seventh outing, sees right wingers marching on the street and tech empires trying to buy into the state.
The buffoons at the top are happy to try and play with both for influence and power. Brexit looms over it all. The Russians are poisoning people and our spooks are shooting them.
In the meantime Slough House—MI5’s London dump for demoted spies which is nowhere near Slough—has been erased from official records, and its members are dying.
Nasty, brutish and fat, Jackson nonetheless is ahead of every game. He can produce a cigarette, a gun or himself seemingly out of thin air. He berates and belittles his minions but he is in the end loyal to them.
Pitted against Slough House is Regent’s Park, the headquarters of the Service.
It can be said to operate under London Rules, whose first tenet is “cover your arse.”
The contemporary references keep the satire level high, but the plotting and character are what actually keep the series going. Some of the background plots have been smouldering for a while.
There are laugh out levels of dialogue and snark.
If you are new to the Slough House books dive in. Perhaps as mortality is high it is best to read the books in order.
The Le Carre analogies that appear in most reviews over the years must get tedious for Herron. But here Herron riffs off them deliberately, gently and well.
And as Jackson Lamb says, “And remember, all of us are lying in the gutter. But some of you are circling the drain.”