Read in entirety on a train journey, Spook Street by Mick Herron is an absorbing tale of 21st century spies and terrorists combined with old-school tactics of indoctrination. The story, fourth in Herron’s ‘Slough House’ spy series, opens straight into the action with a flash mob bomb attack unsuspected by the security services. When the ‘OB’ – the elderly former-spy grandfather of slow horse employee River Cartwright – says stoats are on his trail, his claims are dismissed as advancing senility. Until a man is shot at the OB’s house and the old man disappears. This a story with a tight timeline, everything takes place within a couple of days of the first page. This brings an urgency to the danger and also makes the pages turn quickly. For Slough House fans, there are a couple of new characters to adjust to – Moira Tregorian has taken over the administrator’s desk previously occupied by Catherine Standish, and River now shares an office with the silent, hoody-wearing JK Coe. No one is sure why the latter is there, ie what he has done wrong to deserve being sent to Slough House, or the nature of his particular skill. Jackson Lamb may be a sarcastic, shabby, foul-mouthed drunk but he is also a skilled and wily operative. So when one of his team is threatened, he leaves no stone unturned.
Witty, sharp and fast-paced, this bunch of passed-over has-beens once again demonstrates that the compulsory tradecraft training required of all new recruits to the security services is never forgotten. There are less of the political jibes which were a feature of the earlier books but the darkly funny ping-pong sparring between office colleagues continues. Slough House is a place of painfully slow boring work, digital paper shuffling, of dirty coffee cups and closely-defended territories [desks], it’s a place where even the radiators work slowly. But when one of the slow horses is threatened, everyone leaps into action grabbing whatever unlikely weapons that are to hand.
The storylines are unpredictable, the characters are oddities who somehow manage to work together, and the humour is wicked. Excellent.
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Click the title to read my reviews of the first three books in the Slough House series:-
If you like this, try:-
‘The Farm’ by Tom Rob Smith
‘The Second Midnight’ by Andrew Taylor
‘Panic Room’ by Robert Goddard
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