Bad Actors by Mick Herron [8/10]

The eighth book in the Jackson Lamb/Slough House spy thriller series by the best living writer in that genre, “Bad Actors” arrives just after the first streaming series has dropped, which makes for a fascinating juxtaposition. The Slow Horses first season was wonderful (see my review), but its main contribution to my own enjoyment of Mick Herron’s creations is that my mental image of shambolic spymeister Lamb is now subsumed by Gary Oldman’s virtuoso screen depiction. So Bad Actors felt to me, during my reading, different. Not better or worse but different. Mick Herron’s storyline is his usual wicked imagination running riot: when the British Prime Minister’s chief headkicker, plotting to bring Regent House under his thumb, ”loses” a key staffer, a complex string of dastardly schemes begins to unwind. The author must have had fun writing Bad Actors. With River Cartwright off stage, Shirley Dander, the slow horse with a substance problem and anger management issues, takes center stage, and she is a riotous act. Othe slow horses remain memorable, as do some characters I had assumed were gone for good, and of course, in the middle are Jackson Lamb himself and Lady Diana, the top national spy, jousting and finding ways to work together. Herron is at the peak of his craft, combining top action, mounting suspense, savage satire, and human depth, all with prose to die for. Another fine instalment and I, like many others, cannot wait for the next one.

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