Slow Horses by Mick Herron book review

I was starting to see Slow Horses by Mick Herron absolutely everywhere. I went to a celebration of a book launch at the end of last year where Mick Herron was mentioned, my own dad was reading the series and raving about it and it kept popping up as “popular” when I went to watch anything on Apple TV. So I thought it was time I delved into the world of Slough House and the MI5 rejects that work there.

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Slow Horses is the first book in the Slough House series which focuses, as I said above, on a group of people who have all done something that has forced them to be moved far down the road to a little, dirty part of London called Slough House. The main focal point of this is Jackson Lamb who leads this rag tag group of abandoned agents and River Cartwright who is a young agent who messed up big time during a training drill that sees his hopeful career dashed, leaving him constantly trying to impress so he can go back to working with the best at Regent Street.

Slow Horses plot – 4.25/5

When a young man is kidnapped and him being tied and and threats are made on a livestream on the internet, for some reason, the team at Slough House are involved and so Cartwright is determined to find out what else is going on here and why the big wigs over at MI5 aren’t the ones who are dealing with this work.

The plot itself confused me at first, as did Herron’s writing. It was very passive and not particularly engaging. But as I continued reading and realised there was a slice of humour embedded into the writing, I really began to enjoy it. It’s not quite “tongue in cheek” but there are constant comical jibes, slightly silly moments and an almost unrealistically unprofessional and relaxed way the characters engaged with each other.

Slow Horses starts off relatively slow but slowly builds up, as is the case with most action thrillers. Unlike a lot of other action thrillers though, there isn’t vast amount of action for a large part of the book with a lot of the story focusing on the characters and their journies.

Slow Horses characters – 4.25/5

As I mentioned above, initially I found the writing very passive and so I didn’t really find myself connecting with the characters, however once I began to understand Herron’s writing and that in fact there was a humour layer to it all, I was very impressed. 

Cartwright was my favourite character of them. He was funny, tongue-in-cheek, could take a joke and was also dedicated to proving himself as a genuinely good agent to the MI5 team. His interactions with other characters including a potential love interest were some of the best in the book.

I believe Jackson Lamb is the character who featues throughout the rest of the series as our main protagonist and the leader of the crew. He’s a fascinating character – a reject who’s overweight, drinks too much, smokes too much and appears to have lost all passion for life. There seems to be some deeper secret to him that I imagine we’ll find out more about later in the series.

Slow Horses final rating – 4.25/5

Slow Horses is a big name in the crime genre at the moment and so I felt I had to read it. It started off a little slow but once I realised there was a comedic element and gre accustomed to Mick Herron’s writing style, I started to really enjoy it. The story wasn’t too deep and therefore easy to follow but there were some interesting twists and some questions left unanswered that the next book will hopefully answer. I’ve not read a vast amount of crime books but I think I’ll definitely be picking up the sequel to Slow Horses.

Pick up a copy of Slow Horses.

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