I am currently reading my way through a long list of science fiction and fantasy titles. (http://www.npr.org/2011/08/07/138938145/science-fiction-and-fantasy-finalists if you are interested in the list).
If Spook Street is where spies live, Joe Country is where they go to die.
Like the ringing of a dead man's phone, or an unwelcome guest at a funeral . . . In Slough House memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him an outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears himself apart in the process.
Meanwhile, in Regent's Park, Diana Taverner's tenure as First Desk is running into difficulties. If she's going to make the Service fit for purpose, she might have to make deals with a familiar old devil . . . And with winter taking its grip, Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can't ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible breaks cover at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.
I was thrilled when my hold on Joe Country came in at the library. Because what is better than spending time with the Slow Horses of Slough House?
Once again, Jackson Lamb lets some of the horses out of the barn. They’re off to Wales in a snow storm to search for Louisa:
”We know Louisa was here,” he said. “We know she dumped her phone nearby...I think she got rid of it on purpose. She was going dark.”
“Which is protocol,” said J.K. Coe, “after hostile contact.”
“And she’s got her monkey wrench with her,” said Shirley. “Which means the hostiles might have suffered some contact themselves.”
This novel has all of the things that readers of the Slough House series have come to expect: backstabbing, deceit, ill conceived rescue plans, and general obnoxiousness of certain characters.
Lamb broke wind loudly. Nobody moved. “Did I misfart? That’s your signal to leave.” They left.
Herron also has an excellent way of weaving the real events of our world into his nearly contemporary Britain.
”If Frank Harkness only went places he was welcome,” said Lamb, “he’d have the social life of Julian Assange.”
“He’s already Kevin Spaceyed his career,” Lamb said. “If he wants to go for the full Rolf Harris, he’s a braver man than me.”
If you haven’t met the failed spies of Slough House yet, by all means proceed to the first book, Slow Horses, and start to enjoy their despair.
So many different ways to die arising from the same mistake. That could almost be a mission statement. If not for the Service as a whole, at least for Slough House.