Review: Slow Horses (Slough House #1) by Mick Herron

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Welcome to the thrilling and unnervingly prescient world of the slow horses. This team of MI5 agents is united by one common bond: They’ve screwed up royally and will do anything to redeem themselves.



This special tenth-anniversary deluxe edition of a modern classic includes a foreword by the author, discussion questions for book clubs, and an exclusive short story featuring the slow horses.

London, England: Slough House is where washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated there. Maybe they botched an Op so badly they can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle—not unusual in this line of work. One thing they have in common, though, is they want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there?even if it means having to collaborate with one another.

When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, the slow horses see an opportunity to redeem themselves. But is the victim really who he appears to be?

POSSIBLE SPOILERS IN THE REVIEW

Review:

Dear Mick Herron,

I have had your book on my kindle for a few years (three or four years to be precise). I tried it once or twice, but it just felt slow and more importantly not that easy to read, I felt like I was drowning within the book if that makes sense. Recently I encountered the book in Russian translation in the library and decided to try again.

I am happy to report that I at least finished the book and overall quite liked it. I understand that these series are well known and quite popular and that there is a TV show going on which I have not watched.

I came to this also without reading the reviews at all, but the blurb was clear enough that spies will be the central characters in the story and specifically spies who supposedly did something wrong at one time of their careers, or not even wrong, but something that MI5 did not care for even if this was something that MI5 ordered them to do in the first place. Bottom line – off to the dog house you go, and hopefully you will resign within the next few years, since no serious and/ or exciting assignments will ever be given to you. Of course best laid out plans often do not work out as planned.

Even in translation the first I would say third of this book felt really slow to me. I understood why of course – the author was introducing the characters, just setting up the whole story, describing the place they work in now, etc and more importantly those are people who supposed to use their brains a lot, right? So less running and fighting made perfect sense, although I have to say, I think the author managed to insert some faster bits and pieces in the narrative and it worked well for me, too.

As I said eventually all of these disgraced former spies (no, not former, most of them are still very good) end up participating in an important attempt of trying to save a young man from having his head cut off.

In the meantime we get to observe (and sometimes be very annoyed) at the games the chiefs of the spy agencies play and of course involve their people in playing those games and I have to say this, of course I can imagine that what they do in real life is probably much much worse, ends justify the means and all that, but the stunt that had been played which ended up being connected to our victim made absolutely zero sense to me. I am trying not to spoiler much here, but as much as I get annoyed when innocent people are being stepped upon for the “higher purpose”, as I said I would understand if the result made some sort of sense. I was staring at the page and basically screaming – that’s it? That’s what you did it for and he almost got killed and got saved through no fault of yours? Why was it worth it?

Overall however, I ended up really liking most of the characters from the Slough House and wanted to see them doing more interesting things and already bought book 2.

Grade: B+

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Sirius

Sirius started reading books when she was four and reading and discussing books is still her favorite hobby. One of her very favorite gay romances is Tamara Allen’s Whistling in the Dark. In fact, she loves every book written by Tamara Allen. Amongst her other favorite romance writers are Ginn Hale, Nicole Kimberling, Josephine Myles, Taylor V. Donovan and many others. Sirius’ other favorite genres are scifi, mystery and Russian classics. Sirius also loves travelling, watching movies and long slow walks.

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