Real Tigers by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Catherine Standish knows that chance encounters never happen to spooks. 

She’s worked in the Intelligence Service long enough to understand treachery, double-dealing and stabbing in the back.

What she doesn’t know is why anyone would target her: a recovering drunk pushing paper with the other lost causes in Jackson Lamb’s kingdom of exiles at Slough House.

Whoever it is holding her hostage, it can’t be personal.  It must be about Slough House.  Most likely, it is about Jackson Lamb.

And say what you like about Lamb, he’ll never leave a joe in the lurch.

He might even be someone you could trust with your life …

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s several months after DEAD LIONS.  Louisa Guy’s drowning her grief after Min Harper’s death in alcohol and one-night stands.  She should probably talk to her Slough House colleague, Catherine Standish, a recovering alcoholic still haunted by the suicide of her boss, Charles Partner (whose body she discovered).  Only Catherine’s unavailable right now.  An old lover from her alcoholic days, Sean Donovan, has been released from prison and wants to catch up on old times so badly that he arranges her kidnap.  She knows that it isn’t personal – there’s no grudge between them – but she can’t work out what his real agenda is.

Whatever Donovan wants, it involves Slough House and that makes it personal for Jackson Lamb and the slow horses, who’ll do whatever it takes to get Catherine back …

The third book in Mick Herron’s JACKSON LAMB SERIES is a tense, twisting thriller that shows the development of the Slough House crew, brings in some old faces, expands on Catherine’s back story and is peppered with black comic one-liners so good that I kept turning the pages until the ending, which promises changes for the next book.  Catherine is at the centre of the book, which is fitting given how central she’s become to the Slough House team and all she’s done to pull them together (which explains why they’re so willing to get her back).  I like how calm she is and her emotional strength, which makes her final conversation with Jackson so devastating given that Jackson can’t help behaving like a complete ass at the slightest provocation.  I was a bit frustrated with River’s impetuousness because it’s like he’s learnt nothing from the previous books (although it is true to his character) but his scenes with Spider Webb (whose fate you discover) have a poignancy to them.  I liked that Shirley and Marcus have more to do here and their chemistry works well and Louisa’s self-destruction is believable and heartbreaking.  I welcomed the return of Peter Judd whose scenes with Ingrid Tearney (who finally makes an appearance) are deftly written duels and Lady Di hovers in the background of it all with her schemes and plots as she tries to secure First Chair for herself.  The ending throws the future of the Slough House team up in the air and I will definitely be reading the next book to find out what happens next.

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