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This Is What Happened by Mick Herron
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This Is What Happened

by Mick Herron

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Showing 5 of 5
I'm not even sure what to say about this book. to me it's not a thriller in any way shape or form. It's very screwy and honestly hard to follow at times. I did manage to get through it tho and the ending left to many things open ended. would I recommend this book...no not a chance. ( )
  nibbles_243 | Mar 21, 2018 |
I've become a big fan of Mick Herron's writing, mostly due to the Oxford and Slough House series. His latest standalone novel, 'This is What Happened', is a microcosm of his work: great writing, concise length, excellent characters, and a taut plot. I won't go into the story line at all due to the spoilage risk, but suffice to say it's an interesting spy story, that really isn't a spy story, based on people posing to be who they aren't. You need to read the book to find out what that means..... ( )
  gmmartz | Feb 5, 2018 |
This is What Happened by Mick Herron is, in a way, two books in one and that is not a good thing. The story opens with a taut, suspenseful bit of espionage. Everywomen Maggie Barnes has been recruited by MI-5 to install something on a computer where she works in the mailroom–a low profile job that gives her access to every floor. She’s amazing, she extemporizes and saves herself when things go wrong, she keeps calm and collected. This is the story I expected to read from descriptions of the book and boy, it delivered right from the first page.

However, that Maggie is gone by the next time we connect with her two years in the future. It was not surprising, though, the clues were there from the beginning. It is fair and maybe even credible.

I felt betrayed by this book. I was looking forward to Maggie coming into her own, enjoying this new self who figured out how to escape after being caught, who didn’t panic when she lost a vital element of her mission and risked her life for her country, who took her chance to be a hero. Even though I saw the twist coming so I can’t complain it was unfair, I still was upset. Frankly, the first story is fresher than the twist. The twist is tired.

To be fair, it is suspenseful. I also enjoyed Herron’s sometimes wry examination of idioms. For example, the idiom “to a degree” where Herron reminds us that working to a degree is less impressive if we remember there are 360 of them. I actually laughed out loud when a character responds to someone saying “doors would open” by remarking that person hadn’t gotten through very many despite being nearly fifty years old. These sly, gimlet-eyed skewering of cliches were the best thing about the book. I loved them and they do make me want to read more by Mick Herron.

Herron also showed how someone can just wonder, speculate, and daydream themselves into evil, even into murder. How simply shopping can become persuasive, how if you really want to do something, the soapbox speaker and the butcher, baker, and candlestick maker can all give you ideas and reasons to do what you really want to do. I saw real insight and humor in that.

But none of it overcomes my profound disappointment when the story jumps from the exciting bit of espionage to the Maggie two years later. Even if it was not completely unexpected, it still made me sad.

I received an e-galley of This is What Happened from the publisher through Edelweiss.

This is What Happened at Soho Press
Mick Herron author site

https://tonstantweaderreviews.wordpress.com/2018/02/03/9781616958619/ ( )
  Tonstant.Weader | Feb 4, 2018 |
It's very hard to write about this novel without revealing spoilers. I thought the first part, where Maggie is secretly inserting a flash drive in a computer, was the best bit. After that I nearly stopped reading as I thought I was about to enter a genre of fiction I do not read. Persisting, it was intriguing for a while, but ultimately disappointing - less devious than I know Mick Herron can be. It was also heavily reliant on Maggie being

SPOILER

extraordinarily gullible.

Not as good as the (excellent) Spook Street series.. ( )
  pgchuis | Jan 31, 2018 |
In addition to a private investigator series and a couple of standalones, Mick Herron has written a quartet of hilarious if bitter-tinged stories about failed spies put out to pasture in Slough House, where they manage to catch some dramatic cases despite their banishment. (The second of these, DEAD LIONS (2013) earned him the prestigious CWA Gold Dagger award.) He's a talented author, combining John LeCarré's intricate hall-of-mirrors critique of British intelligence with a wild imagination and a Rabelaisian sense of humor. His new novel, THIS IS WHAT HAPPENED, takes elements of the familiar spy story, with its secrets and switchback betrayals, and locks them inside a tightly-sealed box of psychological suspense.

Maggie Barnes is just starting her life in London, with a job in the mail room of a giant office building. She hasn't made any friends yet and has tentatively reached out to the world on Twitter, posting one picture of the cake she's ordered at a cafe - "nom, nom" - not really sure how it's supposed to work. Unlike her more successful sister, she is utterly alone in the big city until a stranger takes a seat at her table and makes small talk – small talk that turns into a request that she help defeat a plot against England being hatched by Chinese powers in her own office tower.

As the book opens, she's undertaking her secret mission for her MI5 handler, sneaking through the building at night, playing mouse to the security staff cats. What happens next . . . well, it's impossible to say without spoilers. Let's just say the claustrophobic London neighborhood where Maggie lives would be familiar territory to Ruth Rendell.

This short, tightly plotted novel riffs on the insular paranoia that powered the Brexit campaign and on the isolating fever of social media news feeds clamoring with news of disaster and loss. Though readers may stumble over one plot point early on that requires a significant suspension of disbelief, it's worth it to take a deep breath and carry on. After all, in an era that could bring us both Brexit and President Trump, just about anything is possible.

(reprinted with permission from Reviewing the Evidence)
  bfister | Jan 14, 2018 |
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Book description
Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in the huge city of London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner, and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice. Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to infiltrate the establishment and thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk.

Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero—if she can think quickly enough to stay alive. Amazon
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Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in the huge city of London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice. Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to infiltrate the establishment and thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk. Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero - if she can think quickly enough to stay alive.… (more)

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