Review: When a British intelligence agent errs in the description of a suspected bomber, following the wrong man while the right one ends up killing and injuring over 100 people, he's sent to a half-way house for spies for rehabilitation in Slow Horses, author Mick Herron's sixth novel of suspense.
An error on the scale of River Carter's would normally get him fired. But because his grandfather was an officer in the agency, he's assigned to Slough House — a place that doesn't officially exist, where "slow horses", agents who have failed in one way or another, are sent to keep them out of the public eye. He joins an agent who lost a child she was tracking, another who left a computer with sensitive information on a train, a recovering alcoholic, and so on. Each is given a menial task to occupy their time. River transcribes cell phone conversations, all the while wondering what it would take to get back to doing field work. No one seems to know. But when he learns that a teenager has been abducted and threatened with being beheaded on live television, the slow horses drop their make-work assignments and band together to discover where the he is being held, risking not only their future careers but also their lives.
The premise of Slow Horses isn't all that original — a group of misfits that come together to achieve a common goal — but the author personalizes each of the characters to such an extent that the reader really cares about them, flaws and all. There are a lot of nuances to the characters, each seeming to have their own agenda, one that may be in conflict with their self-assigned mission. Still, the group is oddly cohesive and one can't help but cheer them on. The short time frame in which they must accomplish their task adds tension, and gives the story a sense of urgency. Slow Horses is a little slow to start and uneven in places, but as a suspense novel, overall it is a good one.
Special thanks to guest reviewer Betty of The Betz Review for contributing her review of Slow Horses.
Acknowledgment: Soho Press provided a copy of Slow Horses for this review.
Review Copyright © 2010 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
Smoke and Whispers
Soho Constable (Hardcover), April 2009
ISBN-13: 9781569475645; ISBN-10: 1569475644
Location(s) referenced in Slow Horses: England
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Slow Horses by Mick Herron
Publisher: Soho Constable
Publication Date: June 2010
List Price: $25.00
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Page Author: Lance Wright
Site Publisher: Mysterious Reviews
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