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Slow Horses by Mick Herron

Slow Horses (2010)

by Mick Herron

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3291847,708 (3.84)65
  1. 00
    The Ipcress File by Len Deighton (nessreader)
    nessreader: spycraft without a martini in sight, all office files and backstabbing. ipcress is 60s London; horses is 201? london

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The eponymous slow horses are the worn out, used up or otherwise defective spies who can't quite be fired, but who are no longer useful to MI 5. Instead they are relegated to Slough House, where they perform a series of make-work tasks. At least that's their role until they are suddenly thrust into the middle of a terrorist plot and a government counter-plot, the success of either one of which would result in ample blame piled onto Sough House. Can they outwit the terrorists, stay ahead of the so-called "good" spies of MI 5, and save lives, not the least of which their own.

This is the first volume in a series which is new to me. In this one, most of the denizens of Sough House share equal billing. All of them are constantly trying to guess why each of the others has been deposed to Slough House, and all are planning ways they can get back to MI 5, even though the head of Slough House, Jackson Lamb, tells them all they have no chance of ever leaving Slough House. I have an idea that Jackson Lamb is smarter than most like to believe.

This was a very good read, and very well-written and plotted. Here's an example of Herron's prose, in which he is describing one of the slow horses, computer geek Ho,

"Ho was usually first in, often last out and how he spent the hours between was a mystery..., though the cola cans and pizza boxes surrounding his desk suggested that he was building a fort."

3 stars ( )
  arubabookwoman | Apr 25, 2018 |
This was a perfect read for me. The Slow Horses are a group of MI5 employees that has each messed up in some way. They have been stationed to Slough House where they are given mundane tasks in the hopes that they will quit. Each is an individual - they have not bothered to become friends, so team work is non-existent. That is, until they are forced to work together.

I loved this band of misfits, but what I really loved was the humor. The pacing is good once it gets going (bit of a slow starter), and I thought the writing was very good. Gerard Doyle is a perfect fit for this one as narrator - I listened to this at 1.25x speed, and it was fabulous. I was disappointed to see that he does not narrate the second book for some reason, so I guess I will be reading that one in print. A huge thanks to Charlotte and Deborah for recommending this one! ( )
  Crazymamie | Mar 14, 2018 |
River Cartwright works for MI-5, the British intelligence service. When a training exercise is botched, he's relegated to the espionage minor leagues — Slough House, where various agents who have fallen out of favor with "Five" wash up. They are given extremely tedious and uninteresting tasks to do, in hopes that they will get frustrated and quit outright. River chafes along with his fellow outcasts at his exile, until a live video stream appears on the internet, showing a British citizen being held hostage. The only message accompanying the video says that he will be beheaded in 48 hours. Still, there's no role to play for the "slow horses" at Slough House in such an important op — or is there?

Once I figured out that the British pronunciation of "slough" is closer to "slow" than what I'm used to (we say "slew" here in the U.S. Midwest), it was easier to get on board with the premise. The plot did not bolt out of the starting gate (ha! horse joke!) and I nearly gave up on it, but once the "slow horses" were given free rein (ha! another one!) the pace picked up and carried the reader successfully across the finish line (ha! one more!). I wouldn't rule out continuing with the series, but it doesn't feel binge-worthy. ( )
  rosalita | Feb 5, 2018 |
Story illustrating the lives of the "slow horses" of London's intelligence services. Many twists and turns in the story, and many prior relationships color what happens in the story. I found it very confusing, and often lost the thread of the story in the midst of the many characters. ( )
  Pmaurer | Jan 22, 2018 |
Great new angle (and characters). Would highly recommend and will definitely continue with the series. ( )
  jtck121166 | Nov 2, 2017 |
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This is how River Cartwright slipped off the fast track and joined the slow horses.
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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 Carter, 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 broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, River sees an opportunity to redeem himself. Is the victim who he first appears to be? And what's the kidnappers' connection with a disgraced journalist? As the clock ticks on the execution, River finds that everyone has his own agenda.… (more)

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