Slow Horses

Slow Horses

Slough House is a dumping ground for British intelligence agents who’ve screwed up a case in any number of ways—by leaving a secret file on a train or blowing a surveillance. River Cartwright, one such “slow horse,” is bitter about his failure and about his tedious assignment transcribing cell phone conversations. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to...

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Title:Slow Horses
Author:Mick Herron
Rating:
Edition Language:English

Slow Horses Reviews

  • Manda Scott

    So.... I listened to BBC Radio 4 Front Row last night, and there was Mick Herron, talking about his Slow Horses series and he mentioned Len Deighton who was one of my writing heroes in my youth... and the wonder of e-living is that I was able to download it on the Kindle and ... lose an evening. I know something of this standard is a year's hard writing and there's something sacrilegious about reading it in slightly under 6 hours, but Mick, if you're reading this and it's any consolation, I swit

    So.... I listened to BBC Radio 4 Front Row last night, and there was Mick Herron, talking about his Slow Horses series and he mentioned Len Deighton who was one of my writing heroes in my youth... and the wonder of e-living is that I was able to download it on the Kindle and ... lose an evening. I know something of this standard is a year's hard writing and there's something sacrilegious about reading it in slightly under 6 hours, but Mick, if you're reading this and it's any consolation, I switched off the light about 3am.

    and heck, but this is good. I thought Night Heron by Adam Brookes signalled the new Le Carré (because that's our benchmark, like it or not) and Night Heron is good - but this... this is outstanding. Truly, it has the feel of an industry insider, but one with a sharp, deep, compassionate - and utterly ruthless - view of the good and the bad of his profession. The washed-up has-beens of the Slow Horses of Slough House are humanised and given depth so that when they begin to shine it is not implausible, but a huge and glorious relief. I won't go through the plot again, others have done so - I will only say: start it some time before 8pm if you don't want to wake feeling as if you've been sandbagged. And read it with joy that there is still some truly great writing in the world.

  • Veronica ⭐️

    Slow Horses is Herron’s first book in the Slough House series, recently re-released in conjunction with the release of book 4, Spook Street.

    After a mission gone terribly wrong River Cartwright is sent to Slough House, a place where tasks that didn’t matter were preformed by people that didn’t care. Where alongside a pre-digital overflow of paperwork, a post-useful crew of misfits can be stored and left to gather dust.

    The story is told with a wry wit, in metaphors, retrospect and hypotheticals w

    Slow Horses is Herron’s first book in the Slough House series, recently re-released in conjunction with the release of book 4, Spook Street.

    After a mission gone terribly wrong River Cartwright is sent to Slough House, a place where tasks that didn’t matter were preformed by people that didn’t care. Where alongside a pre-digital overflow of paperwork, a post-useful crew of misfits can be stored and left to gather dust.

    The story is told with a wry wit, in metaphors, retrospect and hypotheticals with plenty of laugh out loud moments and dark humour.

    Slow Horses is an introduction to the main characters, the cast outs, at Slough House and their boss Jackson Lamb. The characterization is brilliant as Herron brings together a mismatched bunch of has-beens, loners that haven’t quite given up on the hope of one day returning to Regents Park.

    Under all the character development is a great plot with backstabbing, twists, conspiracy theories, double crossing and buck passing. It’s compelling and edgy and pulls the story along with a rush of adrenaline as the pace quickens and events spiral out of control.

    Wanting to read more of Jackson Lamb and his Slough House crew will be difficult to resist.

  • Susan

    This is the first book in the Slough House series. I have meant to try this series for a long while and, now that I have finally got around to starting it, I am sure I will be reading on. Author Mick Herron has taken the traditional spy story, given it a unique slant and, with many nods to classic spy novels, has created his own world; sly, darkly funny and utterly British.

    Slough House is the dumping ground for members of the intelligence service who have messed up. Rather than sack them, those

    This is the first book in the Slough House series. I have meant to try this series for a long while and, now that I have finally got around to starting it, I am sure I will be reading on. Author Mick Herron has taken the traditional spy story, given it a unique slant and, with many nods to classic spy novels, has created his own world; sly, darkly funny and utterly British.

    Slough House is the dumping ground for members of the intelligence service who have messed up. Rather than sack them, those at Regents Park hope that doling out endless administrative tasks will lead the now defunct spooks, to take a job in security, or elsewhere. However, most of those side- lined to this department of, so-called, ‘Slow Horses,’ cannot envision a life outside of the service and dream of being of use again. The reasons why these former agents end up here vary; alcoholism, leaving top secret information on a train, or making a mistake in a training operation are some of the reasons given, although we learn these may not all be the agents fault.

    River Cartwright certainly does not feel it was his fault that he has ended up at Slough House. His grandfather was a famous, much revered, ex spook, and so he dreams of another chance. It does seem that everyone at Slough House has pretty much given up though and the sarcastic, slovenly, Jackson Lamb, who presides over his small kingdom, seems to accept the status quo as much as anyone. However, when a young man is kidnapped off the street and appears on the internet, with those holding him threatening to behead him online, the Slow Horses become involved in the case. Can they throw off their mantle as failures and save the day?

    This is clever, realistic, well plotted and funny. I liked the characters, the plot twists and the setting. I am a fan of spy novels and, if you like Le Carre or Eric Ambler, you might like to give this a try. It is a modern take on the spy novel; with a realistic setting, where politics and office politics combine and where Herron takes all our preconceptions and turns them on their head.

  • PattyMacDotComma

    5★

    This is not only spooks and spies and intrigue (and it definitely is all that), it is very funny and entertaining! It’s also a wonderful combination of old school sleuthing and networking and never burning bridges (well, not completely) and brave-new-world technology like CCTV mobile (cell) phones and database hacking. All wrap

    5★

    This is not only spooks and spies and intrigue (and it definitely is all that), it is very funny and entertaining! It’s also a wonderful combination of old school sleuthing and networking and never burning bridges (well, not completely) and brave-new-world technology like CCTV mobile (cell) phones and database hacking. All wrapped up in some delicious writing like this.

    There are lots of characters, and I’ll admit I had to backtrack a few times to remember who Hobbs and Hobden and Ho were, but I got the hang of it soon enough. Ho is the computer geek of the slow horses.

    And there did need to be a bunch of characters since some were stationed in the real headquarters, Regent Park, and our “heroes” are the spies who’ve been relegated to a pre-retirement holding pattern in Slough House.

    rhymes with

    in British English

    . Close enough to

    to make

    a kind of rhyming slang nickname that is their “department”.

    Pre-retirement is what the government intends this place to be — a job so boring and demoralising that people will retire, saving the embarrassment of being sacked. Sometimes it works that way, sometimes not. So far, nobody’s ever been promoted back up the ranks, though. They are located in a less-than-desirable area in an old building.

    Got it? If you’re a slow horse, this is your lot. There are many reasons the men and women there have been demoted, and we learn early that River Cartwright (so named by his rebellious mother) was saved from being sacked outright because of the OB, or the Old Bastard, as River fondly refers to his mother’s father, who raised him and in whose footsteps he's chosen to follow.

    River is still close to his grandfather, who was a spook of some renown, and it’s his reputation that stands between River and the door.

    The boss of all of these losers is Jackson Lamb, and there is no love lost between Lamb and any of his underlings.

    During a meeting, River contemplates what he’d really like to do.

    The main story is a kidnapping with a video circulating of a young man, head covered by a hood, being threatened with being beheaded in 48 hours. There is a disgraced journalist who seems to be involved in some dodgy activities, and the powers-that-be want to know what he’s doing. Some of the slow horses are surprisingly involved in an actual operation for once in a very long time, but things don’t work out all that well.

    When the action heats up, and I start thinking to myself “How did she get in there? Where did the gun come from? How did they spot him?” Herron switches back to a previous scene which explains it. It’s done so easily and subtly that it doesn’t interrupt the action, but it makes it very satisfying to feel that there are no loose ends.

    I loved it and have already started Dead Lions, #2 in the series, so many thanks to NetGalley for the copy from which I’ve quoted and to Hachette Australia.

    Excuse me now while I go back to catch up with the slow horses and their old-word expertise and new-world tech! (I should add that this can be read as a stand-alone without needing to follow up.)

  • Carolyn

    I'm so glad I finally got around to reading the opening novel of this series. Friends kept telling me how good it was and boy were they right!

    I loved the writing - wry and sharp, often darkly humorous and deprecating of the failed spies from MI5 who end up at the bottom of the heap, the so-called 'slow horses' working at London's Slough House. They've all done something irrecoverable and cringe-worthy, from leaving classified information on a train to spectacularly failing a terrorist training

    I'm so glad I finally got around to reading the opening novel of this series. Friends kept telling me how good it was and boy were they right!

    I loved the writing - wry and sharp, often darkly humorous and deprecating of the failed spies from MI5 who end up at the bottom of the heap, the so-called 'slow horses' working at London's Slough House. They've all done something irrecoverable and cringe-worthy, from leaving classified information on a train to spectacularly failing a terrorist training exercise as River Cartwright had, one which would have resulted in hundreds dead and millions of pounds in damages had it been real.

    Ruling over all the misfits at Slough House, is Jackson Lamb. No one knows what Lamb did to end up at Slough House all those years ago. An ex field agent during the cold war, he's described as fat, lazy, unwashed with stained, greasy clothing but able to move rapidly with stealth when required. He also knows a lot of secrets and how to manipulate people.

    Once condemned to work at Slough House there was no going back, the hope of MI5 being that agents would get bored to death of dead end paper shuffling and leave of their own accord. But some still hoped to redeem themselves and stayed on looking for that miracle opportunity. River Cartwright is one such hopeful who has his grandfather's spectacular cold war record in the service to thank for not being thrown out after his training debacle. When a young Pakastani student is taken captive by a white supremacist group with threats to behead him, River thinks there is a connection with a journalist they have had under surveillance. What River and the rest of the slow horses doesn't realise is the extent of the games being played behind their back until they are thrown in at the deep end.

    Full of twists and turns, with the devious second in command at MI5, Diana Taverner (nicknamed 'Lady Di') playing dangerous games and using the slow horses for her own purpose, the novel is a delight as the slow horses try to find the kidnapped man and Jackson Lamb wakens from his long sleep to show his true talents. I'm so glad to find this re-invention of the spy novel, previously done so well by LeCarre, Forsyth and Deighton and to see the baton passed to a worthy successor. Now, for the next book in the series!

  • Phrynne

    Well I have to give this book five stars because I read it in one day when I should have been doing other things, and now I really want to move straight into book 2

    Not just another mystery/thriller,

    is totally original in style and content. The main characters are apparently a bunch of losers and misfits which made it all the more exciting when they tried to pull together and achieve something. And of course from the reader's perspective it was anyone's guess if and when they were ev

    Well I have to give this book five stars because I read it in one day when I should have been doing other things, and now I really want to move straight into book 2

    Not just another mystery/thriller,

    is totally original in style and content. The main characters are apparently a bunch of losers and misfits which made it all the more exciting when they tried to pull together and achieve something. And of course from the reader's perspective it was anyone's guess if and when they were ever going to win.

    River Cartwright (yes, there were lots of jokes about his first name) managed to be a very appealing lead character and I hope he features in subsequent books. His boss, Jackson Lamb, is also more than meets the eye and is well versed in coming out on top regardless of events around him.

    This book is clever, funny, well paced and always interesting. I believe I have found myself another good series!

  • Brenda

    This was a pretty clever book. Slough House is an old derelict building. Its occupants are slow horses, spies who have screwed up in various ways and been demoted. They are essentially paper pushers doing mundane work. They are a motley crew who are not friends, very suspicious, always alert and aware, and bitter. When one of them is sent on a field op, albeit just to pick up a bag of trash outside a disgraced journalist's home, mental alarms begin going off. They are never let out in the field.

    This was a pretty clever book. Slough House is an old derelict building. Its occupants are slow horses, spies who have screwed up in various ways and been demoted. They are essentially paper pushers doing mundane work. They are a motley crew who are not friends, very suspicious, always alert and aware, and bitter. When one of them is sent on a field op, albeit just to pick up a bag of trash outside a disgraced journalist's home, mental alarms begin going off. They are never let out in the field.

    By my count, there are ten slow horses including the boss. Most of their downfalls are learned over the course of developing the characters. They may be screw-ups, but I liked most of them a lot. When an online video of an abducted young Pakistani man is discovered, the slow horses start questioning and discovering things. They can't help it; it's who they are. They are spooks and they want to be back in MI5.

    The writing style was interesting and included quite a bit of dry humor and sarcasm. There were a few uniquely British references that I didn't get, but I don't believe that ruined my reading experience. In fact, I'm eager to see what happens with the slow horses in future books!

  • Brenda

    3.5

    s

    After River Cartwright made several wrong decisions - or someone laid the blame squarely on his shoulders - he was told to report at Slough House, the place all misfits, rogues, and unreliables were sent to lick their wounds while working at mundane tasks. The boredom was horrific; the anger at what had happened ate at River, day in and day out...

    Jackson Lamb, boss of the slow horses (those same has-been spies from MI5) didn't seem to garner respect from any of the people under his command

    3.5

    s

    After River Cartwright made several wrong decisions - or someone laid the blame squarely on his shoulders - he was told to report at Slough House, the place all misfits, rogues, and unreliables were sent to lick their wounds while working at mundane tasks. The boredom was horrific; the anger at what had happened ate at River, day in and day out...

    Jackson Lamb, boss of the slow horses (those same has-been spies from MI5) didn't seem to garner respect from any of the people under his command - few knew why he was chief of London's Slough House. Would he have a chance to show his true colours? Perhaps the abduction of a young student and the terrorists' threat of beheading could give him as well as River and the team a chance to redeem themselves.

    Slow Horses by Mick Herron is the first in the Slough House series, and a more different and intriguing plot I haven't read in awhile. After an explosive start, it settled into a slow and plodding plot, with twists, conspiracy theories, blame cast on others and more. Slow Horses is definitely worth the read and I'm looking forward to book #2. Recommended.

  • Gary

    This is the 1st book in the 'Slough House' series by author Mick Herron. Slough House is a dumping ground for British intelligence agents who have messed up a case. The "slow horses," are given menial tasks rather than be trusted on bigger cases. This is the second book I have read from this series having inadvertently started reading this series with the second book. I hesitated starting this book having not been completely blown away by the first book., but found this one personally a lot more

    This is the 1st book in the 'Slough House' series by author Mick Herron. Slough House is a dumping ground for British intelligence agents who have messed up a case. The "slow horses," are given menial tasks rather than be trusted on bigger cases. This is the second book I have read from this series having inadvertently started reading this series with the second book. I hesitated starting this book having not been completely blown away by the first book., but found this one personally a lot more enjoyable.

    In this novel a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, Slow Horse River Cartwright sees an opportunity to redeem himself. i really enjoyed this book and having experienced a slow start with the first novel intend to continue reading this series.

    Maybe the characters are starting to grow on me as well as getting used to the authors style.

    I would like to thank Net Galley and John Murray Press for supplying a copy of this novel in exchange for an honest review.

  • Liz

    Story - 4 Stars, Audio Performance - 2 stars

    This is the first in a series involving intelligence agents that have been banished to “Slough House” for their misdeeds. They are all bitter over being sent away from Regents Park and would do anything to get back into the real action.

    It’s not a fast paced book. A third of the book is gone before anything big happens. It’s actually a pretty convoluted plot. When it finally takes off, it grabbed me. Who to trust? The nefarious plan is mind boggling. “

    Story - 4 Stars, Audio Performance - 2 stars

    This is the first in a series involving intelligence agents that have been banished to “Slough House” for their misdeeds. They are all bitter over being sent away from Regents Park and would do anything to get back into the real action.

    It’s not a fast paced book. A third of the book is gone before anything big happens. It’s actually a pretty convoluted plot. When it finally takes off, it grabbed me. Who to trust? The nefarious plan is mind boggling. “Wars have been started for less.” There’s a lot of dark humor here. I had no clue how this was going to end. Could the slow horses actually pull it off?

    I've often written about how some books do better as one to be read rather than listened to. This fits that bill. There are a lot of characters and we are given detailed background on each one. It was a lot to take in while listening. I also wasn’t enthralled with the narrator. At times, he was difficult to understand. And with a lot of similar names, that’s not a good thing. The other problem is the lack of a break between scene changes. I’m not sure how this was handled in the book, but here it’s a real distraction. Multiple times, I would be caught trying to figure out how a character changed locations instantaneously before realizing the scene had changed and it was about a different character.

    So, at the end of the day, I’ll continue with this series but will try reading the next one instead.

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