Book Review: Mick Herron – Spook Street (Slough House book 4)

  • Originally posted April 18, 2019

It is no secret that this is my favourite series right now. Everyone I talk to about my reading is aware of my love for the writing and the characters in this series. Every time I review one of them as I hungrily catch up in time for the sixth installment coming this summer I talk about how brilliant I think it is.

Slough House is formulaic, but not in a way one would usually associate with writing. The books always begin and close with a description of Slough House, as an office, a living space, from the perspective of a small animal, a creaking piece of equipment, or a person, who may indeed just be a combination of the original two. After all, it is a ‘place for fuck-ups’. You know that at least one of the slow Horses isn’t going to be there by the end of the novel. Each book is segmented into two parts. Part 1 introduces where the characters now are at, any new additions to the cast and a lot of bizarre goings on. Part 2 is where the blood is truly spilt, both literal and not. And the bizarre situations the cast find themselves in get even more ridiculous — the scene in ‘Real Tigers’ where the madness appears to be over, before Roddy Ho drives a bus through the door sticks in the memory — but also more high stakes.

The novels also seem to focus closer to one of the horses. Slow Horses was closer to River Cartwright. Dead Lions followed Louisa Guy (who is probably my favourite character at this point), while Real Tigers was all about Catherine Standish. Spook Street is back to River.

His grandfather, the Old Bastard, has started to go senile at the age of 84, and everyone connected is concerned he will spill state secrets the same way rain clouds spill water. Then, a person identical to River enters his home with the explicit intention to silence him for good. And then the body is identified as being River.

Set loose a chaotic set of events where characters are dead and not, people who don’t really exist are at large commiting terrorist attacks, dodgy dealings from decades past resurface with a vengeance, and enormous revelations and twists have shocking repercussions for everyone. Claude Whelan, the replacement for the much despised Ingrid Tearney, must learn to deal with Jackson Lamb and the devious dealings of Diana Taverner. Emma Flyte, the replacement for Nick Duffy, who was incapacitated during the shootouts he orchestrated for Diana in ‘Real Tigers’, must do the same. With hilarious consequences.

There are also two new Horses to add to the unstable Shirley Dander, the gambling Marcus Longridge, the sociopathic Roddy Ho, and River and Louisa. Moira Tregorian, Catherine’s replacement, who is obsessed with organisation and refers to Jackson as ‘Mr Lamb’, and J. K. Coe, who is also suffering from PTSD or something similar following a traumatic event several months prior. Combine all of this together, and you get a ball of insanity and an exhilarating plot which would be a hot mess were it not for the intelligent brilliance of Mick Herron, who is possibly the most underrated writer around at the moment.

Read the whole series. It’s amazing. Book 5, London Rules, is going to be reviewed for this blog within the next week.

Slough House series:

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

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