Slow horses

Unfinished business in Berlin: The Secret Hours, by Mick Herron, reviewed

During the summer, I noticed a new noise coming from the crowd whenever Ben Stokes or another English player bashed or stroked the ball to the boundary. It wasn’t quite the cheer you’d expect; more an ahhhh of appreciation, as you would deliver to someone who is offering a masterclass in how to win a game when it has, to all intents and purposes, already been won. By the time I was about halfway through The Secret Hours, that was the noise I was making in my head, as new twists kept unfolding. And they did keep unfolding, if twists can be said to unfold, right up until the last

Snafu at Slough House: Bad Actors, by Mick Herron, reviewed

Reviewers who make fancy claims for genre novels tend to sound like needy show-offs or hard-of-thinking dolts. So be it: here’s mine. Anyone who tries to understand modern Britain through its fiction but overlooks Mick Herron’s satirical thrillers merits a punishment posting to the critics’ version of Slough House. That noxious midden of a building opposite the Barbican, its leprous chambers groaning like ‘the internal organs of some giant, diseased beast’, is a sort of landfill site for failed spies. Herron first opened its flaking doors in 2010 with his novel Slow Horses. Seven books later, his squad of borderline sociopath rejects from polite espionage has risen to the dignity

A toxic atmosphere: Slough House, by Mick Herron, reviewed

Mick Herron has been called ‘the John le Carré of his generation’ by the crime writer Val McDermid, and in the 11 years since the first of his ‘Slough House’ novels appeared they have become a best-selling phenomenon. Herron echoes le Carré’s horror at Brexit, which in this latest instalment is only referred to as ‘You-Know-What’. Slough House is, in fact, nowhere near the Berkshire town but an office building close to the Barbican, and no less drab for it. This is where a bunch of ‘slow horses’, spies who have blotted their copybooks in various ways, nominally work. Herron has said: ‘Failures are more interesting than successes: they have