Book Review: Mick Herron – London Rules (Slough House book 5)

  • Originally posted on April 23, 2019

I have now caught up to date with the best spy thriller series since the days of James Bond. And rather like ‘London Rules’’ bookending metaphors, I sense we are reaching the twilight of this one.

This book focuses on Roderick Ho and the relationship he has with his girlfriend, Kim, who was mentioned but never seen in ‘Spook Street’. Similar to how Marcus and Shirley joked repeatedly in the fourth book, Kim is indeed only with him for the money and the computer genius: and instead is truly in love with another man. But, naturally, it’s a lot more complicated than that.

Meanwhile, a series of apparently random terror attacks is rocking the country, seemingly interlinked with the competition between the two most controversial politicians of the time, Zafar Jaffrey and Denis Gimball. Indeed, a leading character linked to this plot is accidentally killed in amusing style — I won’t spoil who or how, but I was laughing for five minutes after it happened!

In the middle of this, all of the slow Horses are causing chaos and being messy. Shirley is finishing her anger management classes, which appear to have worked, although as Louisa notes, it is rather concerning that she wasn’t getting angry at everything. The potential psychopath, J. K. Coe, is talking more than before, and comes up with the motives behind one of the core plots, but the adrenaline rush he feels after finishing the life of others outweighs most else of what he does. River is still worried about his ailing grandfather, especially following the tribulations of ‘Spook Street’, while he gets ever so slightly closer to Louisa, who appears to be the only one with much sanity and use left.

Then we come to the three big cheeses still above them. Jackson Lamb, who’s shady past could come back to bite him, is still on form, being utterly disgusting and brilliant at the same time. Claude Whelan, who is under fire from everyone trying to keep him happy, is feeling the strain and suffering nefarious thoughts about colleagues, whilst being tormented by Diana Taverner, who is a wonderful villain and has been since book 1. Emma Flyte and Molly Doran also return for ‘London Rules’.

Where does the series go from here? From Herron’s brilliant use of foreshadowing, I can sense the next few novels focusing on Jackson Lamb’s secrets from the past coming back to haunt him. Coe’s traumatic back story also requires context. I think we are beyond the halfway point, however. Book 6, Joe Country, is coming out in the summer, and I suspect that number 7 will be the last. I would be surprised if Slough House continued beyond 9, anyway.

But while they continue to be written, I will continue to read them. The quality is still brilliant, and the comedic writing is fantastic. Read this series and you will not regret it.

Slough House series:

  1. Slow Horses
  2. Dead Lions
  3. Real Tigers
  4. Spook Street
  5. London Rules
  6. Joe Country (summer 2019)

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