London Rules by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

London Rules might not be written down, but everyone knows rule one.

Cover your arse.

Regent’s Park’s First Desk, Claude Whelan, is learning this the hard way.  Tasked with protecting a beleaguered prime minister, he’s facing attack from all directions himself: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat’s wife, a tabloid columnist, who’s crucifying Whelan in print; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who’s alert for Claude’s every stumble.

Meanwhile, the country’s being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks, and someone’s trying to kill Roddy Ho.

Over at Slough House, the crew are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath.  But, collectively, they’re about to rediscover their greatest strength – that of making a bad situation much, much worse.

It’s a good job Jackson Lamb knows the rules.  Because those things aren’t going to break themselves.

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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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

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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 …

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Dead Lions by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

Dickie Bow is not an obvious target for assassination. 

But once a spook, always a spook.  And Dickie was a talented streetwalker back in the day, before he turned up dead on a bus.  A shadow.  Good at following people, bringing home their secrets.

Dickie was in Berlin with Jackson Lamb.  Now Lamb’s got his phone, and on it the last secret Dickie ever told, and reason to believe an old-time Moscow-style op is being run in the Service’s back yard.

In the Intelligence Service purgatory that is Slough House, Jackson Lamb’s crew of back-office no-hopers is about to go live … 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

It’s several months after SLOW HORSES and River Cartwright had hoped that he would, if not, be back at Regent’s Park, at least be doing more ops.  Instead he’s still chained to his desk, following up paper trails that no one’s interested in. At least Min Harper and Louisa Gay are out doing something.  ‘Spider’ Webb has got them carrying out a babysitting exercise on Arkady Pashkin, a Russian energy oligarch with political aspirations keen to do a deal with London.

Meanwhile Jackson Lamb is looking into the death of Dickie Bow (an agent he worked with in Berlin) who died of a heart attack on a bus in Oxford.  Bow was a shadow – an expert at tailing people – and Lamb knows that he would never have strayed from his London home without good reason.  And there on Bow’s phone hidden under the seat where he died, Lamb discovers a clue to a myth, a legend that no one in the Service has ever really believed because it’s just too crazy to be true.  Isn’t it?

The second in Mick Herron’s JACKSON LAMB SERIES is another fast-paced, twisting spy thriller with Cold War roots, a dark sense of humour, sassy one-liners and a cheerful willingness to kill characters just as you’re starting to love them.  What makes this series stand out is the way Herron brings his different plot strands together in a fluid way that combines Cold War paranoia with modern worries and motivations to keep the reader hooked.  I love the machinations of Lady Di Taverner and Lamb’s ability to counter them, River’s relationship with the O.B. (who injects the Cold War history but only gives information up to a point) and I also enjoyed the way that the Slough House team is slowly coming together and Catherine’s role in achieving that (with Catherine rapidly becoming my favourite character by being the calm, ordered counterpoint to Lamb’s offensive chaos).  The two newcomers – Shirley Dander and Marcus Longridge – have promise and Ho’s more stereotypical attributes are slowly softening.  Herron is brutal with his character deaths and I was very surprised by the ones in this book and am intrigued to see the effects in the future books.  I still think Lamb’s personal habits are overdone but that’s the only bum note (no pun intended) in the book and I will definitely read the next in this series.

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

The Blurb On The Back:

You don’t stop being a spook just because you’re no longer in the game. 

Banished to Slough House from the ranks of achievers at Regent’s Park for various crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal, Jackson Lamb’s misfit crew of highly trained joes don’t run ops, they push paper.

But not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a ‘slow horse’.

A boy is kidnapped and held hostage.  His beheading is scheduled for live broadcast on the internet.

And whatever the instructions of the Service, the slow horses aren’t going to just sit quiet and watch … 

The Review (Cut For Spoilers):

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