Year 5 / Book 13: Joe Country

12) Joe Country by Mick Herron

And we are back at Slough House with the Jackson Lamb-led band of outcasts and misfits from the world of espionage and intelligence. If you haven’t been reading this series, then I heartily recommend – as I’ve written before, like Le Carre with a touch more thriller and a dryer wit. All of the previous novels are well worth a read.

This is the sixth Jackson Lamb novel from Herron, and it’s now a familiar mix of propulsive plot, sardonic asides and backstabbing politics within the intelligence agencies. From a set-piece funeral, this snowballs into a complex tale of witnessed abuse, cover-ups and violence; with the ‘slow horses’ finding themselves embroiled in it all as usual.

Having said I recommend the series wholeheartedly, I have to say that for me this was the weakest of the bunch: that may be because of familiarity – there’s a new addition to the team (check), Diana Taverner is up to no good (check), there’s some sort of crossover between teams (check) and so on. Perhaps I’m just starting to notice the formula, or perhaps the plot was just less convincing and less successfully woven together this time.

It is still a great read, and the scenes in the Welsh countryside bring genuine tension and fear, albeit the whole set-up seems pretty far-fetched by that point. And there are still some of the funniest lines you get in any crime or spy thriller. Not Herron’s best, but that is still better than many, and I will be reading the seventh regardless.

Score: 6.5/10

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