Spook Street by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Never outlive your ability to survive a fight. 

Twenty years retired, David Cartwright can still spot when the stoats are on his trail.

Jackson Lamb worked with Cartwright back in the day.  He knows better than most that this is no vulnerable old man.  ‘Nasty old spook with blood on his hands’ would be a more accurate description.

‘The old bastard’ has raised his grandson with a head full of guts and glory.  But far from joining the myths and legends of Spook Street, River Cartwright is consigned to Lamb’s team of pen-pushing no-hopers at Slough House.

So it’s Lamb they call to identify the body when Cartwright’s panic button raises the alarm at Service HQ.

And Lamb who will do whatever he thinks necessary, to protect an agent in peril

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s 6 months after REAL TIGERS.  River’s worried about his grandfather, the O.B., who’s showing signs of dementia.  Louisa Guy used the purloined diamond from DEAD LIONS to buy a new flat, Ho’s got a girlfriend (somehow), Marcus Longridge’s gambling addiction is out of control and Shirley Dander is now single and still angry.  They’ve been joined at Slough House by Moira Tregorian (a humourless office manager who actually isn’t a screw up) and J. K. Coe (a man with major issues from Psych Eval).  Catherine has quit Slough House, but Lamb keeps failing to process the paperwork.

When a terrorist blows up a shopping centre, killing over 130 people, the Service is focused on finding out who helped him.  So the last thing it needs is the distraction of the O.B.’s panic alarm going off.  But there’s a body in the O.B.’s house that Lamb confirms is River’s and it’s not long before he discovers that there are secrets in the O.B.’s past that someone is determined should be buried …

The fourth in Mick Herron’s JACKSON LAMB SERIES draws on the collapse of the Berlin Wall and the rise of the Islamist threat in another gripping read that’s packed with twists and turns, some shocking character deaths and a big reveal that promises to shape the coming books.  The best thing about the book is the relationship between River and his grandfather and the implications for both because of the O.B.’s dementia and because of the revelations about both of their pasts.  Being honest, the plot to kill the O.B. didn’t make a whole lot of sense given the way the story develops but that didn’t spoil my enjoyment.  I was pleased to see Catherine return, although I wish that Moira had had more interaction with both her and Jackson because it would have been an interesting dynamic.  Coe is a little too two-dimensional at the moment but it will be interesting to see how he develops in future books.  The character deaths are genuinely shocking and while I’m surprised that Lady Di’s Machiavellian ploys haven’t seen her drummed out, it’ll be interesting to see what happens between her and the new First Desk, Claude Whelan (although Lamb is more than a match for both of them).  I’m already impatient for the next book to come out but will check out Herron’s other work in the interim.

SPOOK STREET is released in the United Kingdom on 9th February 2017.  Thanks to the Amazon Vine Programme for the review copy of this book.

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