Library Journal Reviews

Herron's protagonists live in London's Slough House, home to disgraced M15 agents; readers might have met them already in Herron's Slow Horses. Spotting a conundrum that reaches deep into the Cold War, these eccentric spies have a chance at redemption as they employ their quirks to unravel a twisted pair of plots, one cooked up by a Soviet spy out to avenge a historic atrocity by wreaking havoc, the other a fiendish plot to heist treasure from London's Needle building. The crew also battles the stifling MI5 bureaucracy, which gives Herron untethered leave to skewer the world of spydom with wicked humor and telling details. VERDICT Herron brings a fresh and puckish eye to espionage and crime, leaving behind the stodgy staples. With zippy chapters moving among plot turns, superb drawing of oddball characters, tantalizing suspense, and smart-arse dialog, Herron delivers unbeatable entertainment for thriller fans.—Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA

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Publishers Weekly Reviews

In the opening chapter of Herron's funny, clever sequel to 2010's Slow Horses (2010), low-level British spy, Dickie Bow, dies on a bus to Oxford of apparently natural causes. To Jackson Lamb, the thoroughly unlikable head of Slough House ("the spooks' equivalent of Devil's Island," to which disgraced or out-of-favor British spies are exiled), Bow's death plus a cryptic, unsent text keyed into his cellphone (the single word "cicadas") suggest Russian intrigue, perhaps tied to a long-dormant, possibly mythical, spy named Alexander Popov. Meanwhile, two Slough House operatives are seconded to the job of protecting a Russian billionaire, Arkady Pashkin, in London for a nebulous meeting. The complex plot drags a bit in the middle, as Herron gets quite a number of balls in the air, but once he does, the narrative picks up real steam and becomes genuinely thrilling. The novel is equally noteworthy for its often lyrical prose. Agent: Juliet Burton, Juliet Burton Literary Agency (U.K.) (May)

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