Joe Country: English espionage

Brilliant but baffling. If you’re new to the Slough House series then that’s your likely reaction to this, the sixth in the sequence of modern-day spook stories. Joe Country is not one of those dip-in, dip-out, ‘can be read as a standalone’ novels. Each book in the Jackson Lamb series is a chapter in an…

Russian Roulette: Brit grit with a SovBloc scoundrel

Ex-KGB agent Konstantin – most definitely an international man of murky mystery – has somehow washed up on the shores of England’s seedy Kent coast, and he’s carving a niche for himself among the lowlives and street-scum of a dilapidated seaside town. This is effectively Konstantin’s origin story, told in a series of seven interlocking…

Crime Time: new books and ripping reads

If it’s too hot to do anything apart from flake out with a good book then at least you’ve got plenty of excellent crime thrillers and murder mysteries to choose from. Here’s our rapid round-up of the most intriguing new releases from indie authors and big-name bestsellers – including gritty Britcrime, police procedurals, international intrigue,…

Nightfall Berlin: another brick in the wall

In the mid-1980s, just as Cold War tensions appear to be easing, Major Tom Fox is sent on an unusual mission to bring back a defector from behind the Iron Curtain. In no time flat he’s accused of murder, abandoned by his agency and left to fend for himself on the bleak streets of Berlin…

London Rules: more horseplay

As with his previous ‘Slough House’ spook stories, Mick Herron launches London Rules with a simply gob-smacking opening chapter. You think you understand exactly what’s happening – just another terrorist atrocity among the daily diet of disaster – and then he pulls the rug right out from under with a single didn’t-see-that-coming sentence. It’s absurdly…

The Saint Jude Rules: killers for lost causes

Hard-hitting, smart and snarky, this non-stop action romp pulls few punches as rogue Special Ops killers bite back at the illicit agency which betrayed them. But their initial aim – to turn the tables on the men who manipulated them into committing off-the-books and increasingly unjustifiable homicides – rapidly escalates into something more significant. Cal…

Spook Street: a masterpiece of misfits

Imagine a spy who’s the absolute opposite of the understated, discreet George Smiley and you might come up with some as obnoxious as Jackson Lamb, the lynchpin of Mick Herron’s Slough House series. Lamb is a compelling creation: a character I actively dislike but whose presence on the page lifts every scene he sweats, belches…