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[personal profile] gervase_fen
Nobody left Slough House at the end of the day feeling like they’d contributed to the security of the nation. They left feeling like their brains had been fed through a juicer.

(Gold and Steel, longlisted.) Mick Herron’s latest novel  about spookdom’s  waifs and rejects has all the attractions of the previous books in the series – layered plotting, topicality, lyrical descriptive prose, efficient action sequences, and above all fantastic characterisation.  Shot through with black humour (the prelude is probably going to be unfilmable should See Saw Films exercise their TV series option) “Real Tigers” puts the Slough House team up against the clock when one of their own is kidnapped.  Mick Herron can wring tension from such classic espionage tropes such as trying to evade street surveillance, or penetrating a hostile HQ on a wing and a prayer. However, for putting the reader on the edge of their seat, nothing beats the threat to the kidnap victim – a recovering alcoholic – from a toy size bottle of wine.

“Real Tigers” revisits the events of both “Slow Horses” and “Dead Lions” in passing (and a MacGuffin resolves the ending to “Nobody Walks”) so new readers should probably not begin here.  The book also re-introduces Peter Judd – “blue suit, yellow tie, artfully tousled haystack of hair and a plummy grin you’d have to be a moron not to notice concealed a degree of self-interest that would alienate a shark.” He’s now the Home Secretary,  making “Real Tigers” prophetic or fantastic depending on events after the 23rd of June.  Anyway, suffice to say, I was thoroughly entertained, and expect this to make the shortlist in at least one the categories it's been nominated in.

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