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Book Review: SLOW HORSES by Mick Herron

Slough House where MI5 agents are sent when they've royally screwed up, with the hope that those agents will take the hint and resign from the service. Slow Horses, as they are called, are led by the reject of all MI5 rejects, Jackson Lamb, a slobbish, lazy has been with dark secrets in his past. When Lamb is asked to run an errand for Regent's Park, he sends River Cartwright on his first out-of-the-office job since he landed in Slough House eight months earlier. How can rummaging through the trash bags of a washed up journalist link with the video of the hooded man waiting to be beheaded?

In SLOW HORSES, Mick Herron introduces us to a world of spy novels that we don't often see. Instead of the flashy cars, secret gadgets, and sexy male and female agents that we've grown accustomed to seeing in the spy genre, Herron gives us a group of misfits and outcasts who each have been exiled for one reason or another. The ensemble cast of characters, led by Jackson Lamb, are well-developed, each with their own flawed backgrounds and secrets. The plot, although not breakneck like you'd expect from other novels in the genre, is paced well and keeps the reader turning the page. With this being the first book in the series, there is some slowness to expected as readers work their way through character introductions in the first few chapters.

Herron's writing style is unique, being both sharply witty and observant of character weaknesses, with a generous dose of British humor added in to round out the story. Although SLOW HORSES contains plenty of excitement, don't expect the same level of action you might find in other novels, such as the Jason Bourne series. This isn't a book for lovers of action men, femme fatales, car chases, and glitz and glamour. But if you like intricate plots, downbeat characters, and unexpected heroes, then SLOW HORSES is the book for you.


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