- Originally posted on April 1, 2019
Although it is the third in the Slough House series, this novel still feels as fresh as if it was the first. There are back stories still to be explored, more power plays to be made and more ridiculous situations to be expertly written in equally comedic and thrilling manner.
One such backstory is that of Catherine Standish, who has been a motherly figure to all of the slow Horses previously. Besides being a known alcoholic and a former assistant of Charles Partner, former head of Regent’s Park, not much is known of her history. Yet that all comes out when she is kidnapped by a shady figure from her past, Sean Donovan. Yet all, as usual, is not as it seems…
I had expected a new addition to the slow Horses, especially following the departure of Min Harper during ‘Dead Lions’, yet was pleasantly surprised to find otherwise. Throughout the book, Shirley Dander revealed to me more and more why she is my favourite of the characters – and her interesting relationships with drugs and Marcus Longridge helped to keep the twists going. Louisa Guy is also wonderful – in any potential situation where Jackson Lamb may be deposed from leading the pack, she would surely take over: she has certainly assumed a commanding role. Perhaps she was freed by the mess of the second novel?
River Cartwright is another character who has potential, yet he remained almost a background character this time. That, despite, setting in motion a chaotic set of events which would eventually end up with a huge death toll (there are lots of shocks throughout the novel, even including the very final page!!!). Roderick Ho remains largely unlikeable, but as I believe either book 4 or 5 is based around a plot for him, perhaps that will change in the future.
This is the book where Mick Herron really let the leash go on his ensemble cast. Assorted non-Slough House characters suffer deserved fates and surprising new situations, all in the space of a day.
There must surely be a new arrival for the fourth book, Spook Street, and I am looking forward to finding out who it is. My only concern about the fourth installment, is that it is where the series progresses from one novel every three years to one every single year. Will the quality remain the same? I feel that Mick Herron is not likely going to let it slip. Real Tigers, at least, is brilliantly written as ever, this is one book which lives up to its billing.