Slough House by Mick Herron [9/10]

The seventh in the engrossing, razor-sharp spy thriller series by Mick Herron, alternately labelled as the Jackson Lamb series or the Slough House series, is innocuously titled “Slough House.” If the previous two signaled a dip in helter-skelter pacing, Slough House more than makes up for them. Until around Book Four, Herron did his best to keep each book as a standalone in its own right, but by now the interlaced lives of the huge ensemble cast render that impossible, so when this juggernaut kicks off with two pages of mayhem, followed by byzantine twists involving spy assassins and MI5 skullduggery, it takes all one’s concentration to keep up. By a third of the way through, the grandeur of the story’s conceit has a grip and I read Slough House in a blur of gasps, chuckles, and admirative shakes of the head. The author’s acerbic wit is ascendant, and the two core characters of repellent but magnificent Jackson Lamb, and doughty, quick-witted River Cartwright dominate. Buckle up, dear reader of Books 1 to 6, for a brilliant ride, and if you are new to Mick Herron, do yourself the favor of a lifetime and devour all seven volumes in a sprint.

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