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SLOW HORSES
by Mick Herron
Soho , June 2010
325 pages
$25.00
ISBN: 1569476438


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Does it make sense to review one-half of a book one way and the other half in a different way? I liked the first half of SLOW HORSES. Maybe even a little more than half. But then something happened to grind my reading to a halt and caused me to curse. And I feel awful that I cannot explain it to you but if I do, I give away far too much of the plot and that's not right either.

The "slow horses" in this book are those who started out grandly, fabulously, working for MI5, working against terrorism, training to be spies, to search out threats to England and the world and who, somehow, screwed up. Who left an important CD on the subway, or who failed in a training exercise to stop a terrorist from blowing something up. They still have jobs, but the jobs are miserable, their boss is miserable, the building where they work is miserable and, well, they're pretty miserable. Most of the slow horses hope that someday they'll be dragged back from employment limbo and reinstated; meanwhile, they have no other real choice but to work at grindingly dull jobs, reading websites, monitoring chatter.

The characters in this book are all so messed up. Some are in charge and are ambitious, cold-blooded, determined. Some are washed-up but are just as determined. It's very hard to know who the good guys are at times, although there are some fairly obvious bad guys.

There's a touch of le Carré in this book. The le Carré touches show up in the "just when you think you've figured it out" moments, and in watching bewildered people hack their way out of a mess. And in case it's not clear, I wholly admire le Carré and writers who can write the way he does. As a reader, sometimes, you just go along for the ride, right? But the complications within complications did wear me down and there were parts of this book where I could swear an editor said "hey, Mick, you have to flesh it out" and so he added pages that really add nothing to the plot. So there you have it. A half-good, half-not-very-good book. You decide.

§ Andi Shechter, who has twice has chaired mystery conventions, has an ancient MA in Criminal Justice and is proud to have appeared in a mystery as a New York runway model.

Reviewed by Andi Shechter, May 2010

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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