Mick Herron’s superb Slough House novels are worthy enough in and of themselves, but now my enthusiasm is also feeding off the addictiveness of the also-superb Apple+ adapation, Slow Horses. Herron’s got a great thing going right now, a powerful cross-marketing loop. I recently blazed through volume four, Spook Street (2017), not just for the sheer reading pleasure, but in order to keep ahead of the show’s production schedule. Once again, Herron does not disappoint; I left the latest installment excited both to see the forthcoming TV version and to continue on to the next book in the series.
Spook Street digs deeper into the relationship of unlucky Slough House exile River Cartwright and his service-legend grandfather David, now retired—and starting to experience health issues. Shortly after a terrorist shopping mall explosion sets England on edge, River visits his grandfather’s country estate and stumbles into new intrigue when David is targeted in an assassination attempt. Their adventure once again entangles slovenly Slough House boss Jackson Lamb and his run-down staff as they argumentatively collaborate to solve the mystery of both the terrorist attack and the hidden secrets of the Cartwright family past.
Herron’s plotting is once again spotless and engrossing, and his ensemble is once again brilliantly deployed, the frustrated heroes undertaking yet another opportunity to prove themselves in a swirling chaos of comical banter and explosive violence. Most of the old crew is back, while a handful of new characters—traumatized new Slow Horse J.K. Coe, Lamb’s garrulous new assistant Moira Tregorian, and new Regent’s Park top dog Emma Flyte—bring new flavors to the stew. Somehow, Herron manages to keep his irrelevant station in the mix of intelligence-world intrigue, despite their pariah status and the hostile opposition of scheming, Second Desk stalwart Diana Taverner. Once again, a sheer joy to read for spy buffs; as far as I’m concerned, this series could last forever.