Joe Country (Jackson Lamb 6) by Mick Herron

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Joe Country (Jackson Lamb 6) by Mick Herron

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Category: Thrillers
Rating: 5/5
Reviewer: Sue Magee
Reviewed by Sue Magee
Summary: You could read this book as a astandalone, but you're not going to get the best out of it. Give yourself a treat and start at the beginning of the series: you won't regret it. Promise.
Buy? Yes Borrow? Yes
Pages: 352 Date: June 2019
Publisher: John Murray
External links: Author's website
ISBN: 978-1473657441

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I'd like to say that all the old crew are in Slough House but the rate of natural (or unnatural) wastage is such as to have Health and Safety worried. Roderick Ho's there though, narcissistic as ever, and so's Louisa Guy. She's getting over the death of Min Harper to the extent that she's not too concerned when she gets a phone call from Clare Harper, Min's wife. River Cartwright has got death on his mind too, but in his case it's the impending demise of his beloved grandfather and former spook, the OB. Diana Taverner has taken over from Claude Whelan as First Desk at Regent Park and she's going to make changes: one of the first is a shock. An argument with Emma Flyte sees the head dog departing the service. Meanwhile at Slough House, Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Jackson Lamb is offensive as ever and Shirley Dander and J K Coe do their best to remain unnoticed, the latter by saying nothing.

If you're a newcomer to the series you'll wonder if you really are going to have to deal with a cast of thousands. It's rather like listening to an episode of The Archers and hoping to understand what's going on. On the other hand, if you're an established reader, you'll be nodding your head in delight as you meet old friends. Mick Herron's good at giving just enough backstory so that a new reader isn't going to feel completely at sea but quite honestly you'd be better starting at the beginning of the series and having the pleasure of reading the books in the proper order.

There's a new addition to the slow horses. Lech Wicinski prefers to be called Alec, but it's not something that he needs to be worried about as no one is going to want to talk to him when they realise that he's been moved out of Regent Park (pending an investigation, naturally) because kiddy porn has apparently been found on his work laptop. He denies it, but then he would, wouldn't he?

That phone call Louisa Guy got from Claire Harper was to arrange that the pair should meet. Guy's not keen - what they have in common is not exactly something they're going to discuss - but goes along out of politeness only to find herself dragged into tracing Min's teenage son, Lucas, who's done a runner. It sounds simple and it doesn't sound unreasonable. How can she refuse? She probably should have done.

For me, thrillers have three important elements: the characters, the plot and the writing. The characters in this series are wonderful, from the brutally offensive Jackson Lamb (with each book you think he can't get any worse, but he can and does), to the well-mannered Catherine Standish who does her best against outrageous odds to maintain standards, to Roddy Ho, who is regularly the source of some of the funniest writing I've read in a long time. Each character is brilliant: there isn't a weak one amongst them.

If I have a quibble with this series, it's with the plots. Essentially they're a vehicle for the characters. The slow horses blunder though something seeming almost to snatch defeat from the jaws of victory but coming through at the end only for Jackson Lamb to pull out a twist which stands much of the story on its head. Predictable? Yes, it is, but it's always well done and frankly I don't care and it's not just down to the characters. The writing is superb. Herron has been compared to John le Carre, but I prefer Herron, who has all the skills of le Carre but with better dialogue. He writes the full range of human emotions and is - on occasions - gloriously, uproariously funny.

Read the series. It's brilliant and I'd like to thank the publishers for making a copy available to the Bookbag.

Reconstruction by Mick Herron is a stand-alone novel and really quite brilliant.

Mick Herron's Jackson Lamb (Slough House) Novels in Chronological Order

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