Friday 31 March 2023

Real Tigers (Slough House #3)

I raced through the Slough House series by Mick Herron after reading an interview with one of my favourite writers, Mary Lawson, who recommended them.  These well-written, fast-moving spy thrillers with a nice line in humour and a central London setting are just what I need right now.  

Slough House just went live. The four of you are up.

London is sweltering in a heatwave and tempers are fraying in Slough House the building for washed up spies on the wrong side of the river.  Leaving work Catherine Standish runs into an old acquaintance from her Regent's Park days.  Catherine knows that chance encounters don't happen to spooks and tries to go to ground on London's streets but can't shake off her tail.  Bundled into a van and asked by her kidnappers which one of her colleagues she trusts the most she names River Cartwright. Which could be a mistake.

Catherine's disappearance raises alarm bells back at Slough House led by the hard-drinking, smoking, flatulent Jackson Lamb, a former spook from the Berlin days.

'This is the Secret Service. Not frigging Woman's Hour.'  

Young River Cartwright is an interesting character.  Exiled to Slough House since he crashed King's Cross in a training exercise (even though he was set up) he is impulsive to say the least and can't stand the tedium of admin work. Swinging into action he embroils his colleagues (known as the slow horses - a pun on Slough House) into a violent situation where, as always, they are largely unarmed, ill-informed and unprepared.  But at least it gets them out of the office.

Real Tigers is one of my favourites in the series because the weather reflects the action.  As the heatwave finally breaks the violet hour gives way to darkness and a soft rain falls over London.  

This is the noise the rain always makes; the soft sighing of the pavements.