Saturday, February 11, 2017

Dead Lions: Mick Herron

From the description at Penguin Random House:
The disgruntled agents of Slough House, the MI5 branch where washed-up spies are sent to finish their failed careers on desk duty, are called into action to protect a visiting Russian oligarch whom MI5 hopes to recruit to British intelligence. While two agents are dispatched on that babysitting job, though, an old Cold War-era spy named Dickie Bow is found dead, ostensibly of a heart attack, on a bus outside of Oxford, far from his usual haunts. 
But the head of Slough House, the irascible Jackson Lamb, is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered. As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets that seem to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, who is either a Soviet bogeyman or the most dangerous man in the world.
I have now read three books by Mick Herron and not one of them has disappointed me. Of the three, Down Cemetery Road (2003) featuring Zoe Boehm is my favorite. The other two are firmly in the spy fiction genre, and also very entertaining.


Slow Horses, the first book in the Slough House series, was published in 2010. Dead Lions is the second in the series, published in 2013, and it won the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger. I liked both books because they move fairly slowly and patiently through the story for the first one half to two thirds, and then the action gets more intense and they have a wow finish. I like a wow finish.

As I noted in my review of Slow Horses, Mick Herron is very good with characterization. Even bit players are fleshed out. We get to learn a bit more about some of the spies that have been sent off to Slough House this time. As is typical of spy novels, the plot is complex, sometimes to the point of confusion. But it all pulls together in the end. Not only is the book beautifully written, it is not overly serious, with plenty of humor.

See reviews of Dead Lions at Crime Scraps Review and The View from the Blue House.

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Publisher:  Soho Crime, 2013.
Length:    347 pages
Format:   Trade paperback
Series:     Slough House #2
Setting:    UK
Genre:     Espionage fiction
Source:   Purchased my copy

10 comments:

  1. Hey Tracy,

    You've inspired me to give him another go. I didn't like his first book all too much there but I'm willing to try again. I just felt this pacing was too slow for my tastes and to be fair, I just didn't have the patience for him to build up his story. I've learned to set such books aside when it's more "me" than the "writer." - Keishon

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    1. Keishon, the books (that I have read so far) in the Slough House series are very slowly paced, for at least the first half, and I can understand it taking a good while to get into them. I do prefer fast paced books, mainly because they do pull you in, but with spy fiction I don't mind the slow pace. Usually.

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  2. I do like well-developed characters, Tracy. And it's not always easy to weave them into a spy novel. I'm glad you enjoyed this one. I may put one of Herron's novels in the spotlight. Thanks for the reminder.

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    1. I would love to see you put one of Mick Herron's books in the spotlight, Margot, especially because I would like to hear your insights about the books.

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  3. Another slough house novel. This is more snarky and sarcastic than previous effort. Pretty funny overall, but was also a fast paced spy novel. Overall good read.

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  4. Tracy, I assume the series is set during the Cold War in which case it has certainly piqued my interest.

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    1. Prashant, Dead Lions and all of the Slough House novels (I think) are set in the current time. The summary does mention an old spy from the Cold War era but his death is what the story revolves around. Kind of felt like a Cold War story modernized.

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  5. I haven't read this one yet, but I loved the two books on either side of it, and have just read the latest one. I meant to read this one next but got a review copy of the new one. I don't find them slow-paced at all, and I absolutely love his style. I look forward to trying his crime books once I have polished off all the Slough House books.

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    1. I am glad you like the Slough House series so much, Moira, and I hope you like his other novels as well. My current plan is to read another of the Zoe Boehm series next, just because I have a couple of those. But I did buy a novella that comes next in the Slough House series, so I will probably read that one soon too.

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