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Slow Horses by Mick Herron

The first in a series of thrillers about a team of disgraced MI5 operatives lead by a suitably unlikely anti-hero

Geraldine Gardner

Geraldine Gardner


01635 886684

Slow Horses by Mick Herron

I LOVE a good thriller, particularly the world-weary detectives/private eyes such as Cormoran Strike, Jackson Brodie and Harry Hole.

Having just devoured the latest Strike mystery, Lethal White by JK Rowling’s alter ego Robert Galbraith, I was feeling a bit bereft and was somewhat surprised that I had not come across Mick Herron’s marvellous creation Jackson Lamb before.

The latest in Herron’s series about a group of discarded MI5 misfits, Joe Country, came out this summer and, reading the reviews, I knew these were my kind of people.

So I decided to start from the beginning with Slow Horses (published in 2010) – there are now six in the series, so I have five more to enjoy.

Jackson Lamb is a thoroughly unlikely anti-hero, he’s non-pc and rides roughshod over anyone, but underlying all of this is a sharp mind and a sense of duty to the team at Slough House.

Slough House isn’t in Slough, it is in London and is a dumping ground for any MI5 operative who messes up and is labelled a ‘slow horse’.

Why Lamb is there is not immediately apparent, but at the beginning of Slow Horses, Herron gives us a quick run down of the central characters and for the most part the mistakes that have seen them end up there. This may make for a slow start, but stick with it.

The plot revolves around the apparently random kidnapping of a young boy and the threat to behead him online in 24 hours.

There are red herrings and twists and turns along the way, but it is a satisfying mystery and Herron does not hold back on who he disposes of, so I fear I may be in for a rollercoaster when it comes to welcoming back familiar characters in each book.

No series would be complete without a set of characters who are the antithesis of Lamb’s team and they are provided by MI5’s headquarters, where the ruthlessly ambitious Diana Taverner is constantly wrong-footed by Lamb.

Interestingly, there is also a political figure featured in the book – public school, blond, rather scatty with a bumbling public persona, but ruthlessly amibitious. Can’t think who that is based on and I look forward to seeing how he plays out in the rest of the series.

I would heartily recommend these books to anyone that likes a good mystery, along with a bunch of characters who become like a favourite cardigan – you get that feeling of knowing exactly how it’s going to feel and, with a cup of tea and big armchair, it couldn’t be better for these rainy autumn days.

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