Slough House (Jackson Lamb 7) by Mick Herron
|Slough House (Jackson Lamb 7) by Mick Herron|
|Reviewer: Sue Magee|
|Summary: Biting satire and laugh-out-loud humour. Definitely recommended.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 320||Date: February 2021|
|Publisher: John Murray|
|External links: Author's website|
Longlisted for Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year 2022
Someone is killing secret service agents, past and present, from the Slough House team. Jackson Lamb can't understand it. Well, what he actually can't understand is why, having seen them, anyone would bother. But the deaths are mounting up and something needs to be done. After all when things went awry on Spook Street, they generally went the full Chris Grayling. Over at Regent's Park, Diana Taverner is quietly jubilant about an operation which saw the perpetrator of a Novichok poisoning in the UK (three people seriously injured and one dead) dispatched. It isn't just the message that was sent: she's also delighted that she managed to fund the operation off the books. Some private money was brought in. She won't always be so jubilant about this.
You know exactly what you're getting with Mick Heron's Jackson Lamb series. From a negative point of view, you're going to get something that's written in a tried and tested format: open with a description of Slough House, lay out the plot, do the exciting bit and finish off with another description of Slough House. You know that the satire will be merciless: History has an open-door policy. Any fool can walk in.
Or the description of the prime minister as a cross between a game show host and a cartoon yeti.
Occasionally, you'll wonder if something has been introduced simply so that Jackson Lamb can be politically incorrect about it. Reece Nesmith III is a gay American dwarf: I couldn't spot any plot reason for his having achondroplasia but it does give Lamb the opportunity to make some offensive comments. Perhaps the least offensive is to tell people not to worry about what they say in front of him as it'll all go over his head.
Oliver Nash is still head of the Limitations Committee: every Joe's nightmare: a career bureaucrat with an operational veto. This might be the reason why Lady Di chose to go off the books with her operation: even Oliver Nash can't stop something of which he's not aware. The source of the funds was Damien Cantor, head of a rolling news channel, who's about to think he's done more than donate money to a good cause.
The characters we know and love are all there. River Cartwright is still mourning the loss of Sidonie Baker. Roddy Ho's still a wizard with a computer but as un-self-aware as ever and Catherine Standish is still trying to keep things running without resorting to alcohol, no matter how much Lamb tries to tempt her. Lech Wicinski would prefer to be called Alec but it's a moot point as no one speaks to him. His face still looks as though it lost an argument with a cheese grater. Yes - you know exactly what you're getting.
And the surprising things is that it's still fresh, it's still funny and it's still a damned good story. The satire is biting and no one is exempt, even senior royalty. In earlier books, I thought that Peter Judd was the alter ego of Boris Johnson but we have two bites of the cherry in Slough House: Peter Judd's still there but Boris Johnson is the prime minister over at number ten. Don't worry there's plenty to have a dig at to cover both characters.
It's a very good read and even if you came to it without having read the earlier books in the series you wouldn't feel any more lost than the occupants of Slough House do on a permanent basis but don't deprive yourself of a pleasure: start at the beginning.
I'd like to thank the publishers for letting Bookbag have a review copy.
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