It’s a bit weird coming to this book after reading the author’s excellent, bleak Nobody Walks. At about the halfway mark of Slow Horses, I felt an uneasy stirring of familiarity, much like I had upon reading Agatha Christie’s The Murder Of Roger Ackroyd after her excellent, bleak Endless Night. While the plot twist in Dame Christie’s more famous work was thoroughly spoiled for me because of it, I was exceedingly pleased that, while SH does bear a similarity to the standalone NW, it goes beyond and better, in a different direction and tone. I really enjoyed this.
Anyway, SH is about an office of sad sacks nominally employed by MI5 but relegated to a building kept away from the action, given busywork with the intent of boring them into leaving the service. When a young man is kidnapped by terrorists and threatened with public execution, River Cartwright, one of said sad sacks (or Slow Horses, as they’re called in a layered pun on the name of the building they work out of,) thinks the abduction might be connected to a work errand he was sent on, going through the trash of a disgraced former journalist. What he uncovers could put their entire department, and lives, in danger… or perhaps give them all a shot at redemption.
It’s hard for me to review this book without bringing up NW because that was a deeply affecting book, and the one that initially made me a fan of Mick Herron’s. I will say that I was very pleased that SH wasn’t as much of a downer as I’d feared it might be. I have to read and review the next two books in the series by the 13th, so I’m really glad it won’t just be a litany of sorrow, if this book is anything to go by. I’m especially looking forward to the continuing adventures of Lamb and Standish, tho I am rather fond of all of the Slow Horses still left standing.