‘Real Tigers’ is the 3rd novel in Mick Heron’s Slough House series and I have come to love the motley crew known as the slow horses.
Think of all the slick and sophisticated spies you’ve read about or seen in movies, then think the opposite and you have the crew at Slough House. They have all messed up in some way as MI5 agents and been sent into the wilderness because for various reasons they can’t be sacked. They spend their working days carrying out meaningless paperwork in the hope that they will resign. Nothing interesting happens at Slough House – at least… that is the intention.
Everything changes when one of the slow horses is kidnapped and another is sent proof of the kidnapping and given the kidnappers’ demands.
We spend the rest of the novel unpicking plots and sub-plots and wondering if any of the residents of Slough House are capable of carrying out even the simplest of tasks. There are a lot of power plays going on in the government and in the senior ranks of MI5 that have a surprising impact on our motley crew.
What makes this novel such fun to read is the characters. Jackson Lamb is the head of Slough House, an unpleasant slob, able to generate pungent farts at will. River Cartwright managed to shut down a London station during peak hour in a training exercise but still hopes to redeem himself. Catherine is a recovering alcoholic who knows too much to be let out in the real world. Rodney Ho is the resident computer genius with absolutely no social skills. Louisa is still recovering from Min’s death in ‘Dead Lions’. Marcus is a gambling addict and Shirley needs a few hits to get through the day. How could this unlikely crew come together to solve anything?
The rest of the characters were pretty colourful as well.
This was another brilliantly humorous and irreverent look at MI5 and the intelligence community in general as well as the British government. But it could be equally well applied in any country. I have enjoyed all three Slough House novels and hope that Mick Herron produces many more.
Next in series is ‘Spook Street‘.
Book Published 2016