Friday, 13 April 2018

Spook Street by Mick Herron

As well as being a member of THE Book Club (TBC) on Facebook, I am also part of a real life crime book group, run by the gorgeous Sharon, blogger extraordinaire over at Chapter in my Life - do check her blog out, it's fab. Anyway, this was our book for this month.

The Blurb:

Never outlive your ability to survive a fight.

Twenty years retired, David Cartwright can still spot when the stoats are on his trail.

Jackson Lamb worked with Cartwright back in the day. He knows better than most that this is no vulnerable old man. 'Nasty old spook with blood on his hands' would be a more accurate description.

'The old bastard' has raised his grandson with a head full of guts and glory. But far from joining the myths and legends of Spook Street, River Cartwright is consigned to Lamb's team of pen-pushing no-hopers at Slough House.

So it's Lamb they call to identify the body when Cartwright's panic button raises the alarm at Service HQ.

And Lamb who will do whatever he thinks necessary, to protect an agent in peril . . .

My Review:

This was the first book I have read by Mick Herron, although it's the fourth in his  Jackson Lamb (Slow Horses) series. It  was absolutely fine to read as a stand alone, as the characters are well described, but there is a clearly a back story for each of them covered in previous books.

This came highly recommended so I was keen to get started. But, to be honest, it took me a good while to get into it. For the first few chapters, which set the scene and introduce the main players, I found the writing quite laborious. The sentences are long, and very adjective heavy - it almost felt in places as if the author was trying too hard.

But this is a book of two halves, or rather one third and two thirds. Almost as soon as Jackson Lamb arrives in the story, the action and the pace build up, and the style of writing changes too. I really got into the book at this point, and it was much easier and more enjoyable to read from then on.

Jackson Lamb heads up a team of disgraced secret service agents known unofficially as the Slow Horses. There has been  something that has happened to each member of the team which has ended with them being sent to join Lamb at Slough House, to stay out of trouble. But it doesn't quite work out that way.

One of the team, River Cartwright, is concerned about his grandfather, a retired spy, who appears to have the symptoms of dementia. But the old man is convinced he's being watched. And then there's a dead body in his house...

Once it gets going this is a brilliant, enjoyable read. The main characters are all quirky and clearly have issues, particularly J K Coe. They were all well drawn, but I shall be reading the earlier books because I'm interested now in their back stories.

And what can I say about Jackson Lamb? I adored him. He's unkempt, rude, disregards authority, smokes too much and drinks too much, but he's fabulous.

The plot moves along at a pace, after the first few chapters, and builds up to the finale. There is dark humour running all the way through, which I loved. You do need to keep your wits about you - there are a lot  of characters involved,  some using different names.

Looking forward to reading the earlier books in the series.

You can purchase Spook Street (and the other books in the series) online at Amazon UK or US,, and in all good bookshops.

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