“The killers arrived in a sand coloured jeep and made short work of the village.”
From the shattering first line of this shockingly entertaining thriller, LONDON RULES lives up to all its exacting expectations as the latest instalment of the Slough House series.
LONDON RULES is the fifth in the series featuring the group of British Intelligence agents whose careers have been derailed, dissembled or degraded by indiscretion and ignominy, but for some reason not sacked, prosecuted or executed, retained to do mind numbingly mundane chores in a backwater of the secret service. LONDON RULES predecessor SPOOK STREET won the coveted and prestigious Ian Fleming Steel Dagger Award and LONDON RULES would have to a be front running contender to score again.
Not only a taught, terrific thriller, LONDON RULES is an ingeniously crafted comic tome, where the higher ups keep letting us down and the left by the wayside are there to do the job and clean up the mess.
Brexit, bureaucracy and bumblebum British politicians are at the receiving end of the brick bat blunt instrument of author Mick Herron‘s finely honed pen.
As much Wodehouse as Fleming, Mick Herron also manages to invoke Dylan Thomas, with prose in praise of the horological, lyrical with bible black bite on the blighted and blotted landscape of power politics and international intrigue.
After the terrific and terrifying pre-title sequence, which has its own in built surprise, Herron opens the narrative proper:
“In some parts of the world dawn arrives with rosy fingers to smooth away the creases left by night. But on Aldersgate Street, in the London borough of Finsbury, it comes wearing safe cracker’s gloves….”
After the horrors and hilarity of LONDON RULES, Herron beds the tale down in a return to the horological- “When dusk at last comes it comes from the corners, where it’s been waiting all day, and seeps through Slough House the way ink seeps through water…its older brother night has broader footfall, louder voice, but dusk is the family sneak, a hoarder of secrets…..everything that happens- good and bad- dusk clocks, absorbs, but mostly forgets. For if dusk remembered everything the weight would nail it in place, keeping it from its eternal search for its twin, the dawn, which it has never met. Always, it’s halfway behind or halfway ahead. It’s never known which.”
LONDON RULES fizzes with fully fleshed, fully fledged, multi faceted characters, led by the coarsely vulgar eccentric Jackson Lamb, cold war warrior who likes to turn up the heat on Her Majesty’s Secret Service.
Mick Herron’s first Jackson Lamb novel, SLOW HORSES, was described as the most enjoyable spy novel in years, a description that prevails and is duly and deservedly passed on to LONDON RULES, an inheritance we can all enjoy.
LONDON RULES by Mick Herron and the SLOUGH HOUSE SERIES published in Australia by Hachette.