In the British secret service someone qualifies as a “slow horse” if they have messed up in some way. They have failed whilst on duty or possess some frowned-upon character flaw and have been exiled to Slough House in London. No glittering career, just dead-end jobs to do. The prospect of carrying out a real operation is a pipe-dream. Everyone has their own secret, their own reason for being there.
Things change when a young man is kidnapped and his captors threaten to behead him live on the internet. The slow horses get pulled into the situation and called to action, but all is not as it seems.
I came across this book by chance when Amazon was selling it cheaply. The reviews were good and the associated audiobook was also on special offer, so I gave it a go.
I’m glad I did. This is a quite a short, character-driven story and weaved through the whole thing is a seam of black humour and a healthy disrespect for those in power. I’m a big fan of Len Deighton and in particular his stories featuring weathered British spy Bernard Samson. If you like those you will feel right at home here.
With regard to the narration of the audiobook, at first I thought that the narrator was a bit dour but after a while you realise that this is perfect for the tone of the story. The humour comes over well, different accents are handled well and each character has their own voice. He can also ramp up the pace when necessary, something done in a seamless manner.
I really enjoyed the atmosphere of the book and the detailed characters. There are another couple of books in the series, and I’ll definitely be back.