Bad Actors
May 14, 2022 2:49 AM - Subscribe

A governmental think-tank, whose remit is to curb the independence of the intelligence service, has lost one of its key members, and Claude Whelan—one-time head of MI5's Regent’s Park—is tasked with tracking her down. But the trail leads straight back to the Park itself, with Diana Taverner as chief suspect. Has Diana overplayed her hand at last? What’s her counterpart, Moscow’s First Desk, doing in London? And does Jackson Lamb know more than he’s telling? Over at Slough House, with Shirley Dander in rehab, Roddy Ho in dress rehearsal, and new recruit Ashley Khan turning up the heat, the slow horses are doing what they do best, and adding a little bit of chaos to an already unstable situation…

As with The corpse in the library's posts for earlier entries in the series, the description is taken from Mick Herron Books.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol (1 comment total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
 
Read it over the past few days, unordered impressions/thoughts follow:

Much as I enjoyed the first season/series of the Apple TV+ adaptation, I was happy to find that the depictions of the characters (and the interior of Slough House) as I'd originally imagined hadn't been completely replaced by Gary Oldman et al., though that's no doubt helped by the high rate of attrition for the slow horses over the intervening seven books.

Probably best to leave your audience wanting more, but I could have done with at least one more instance of "the PM had just shared his vision of post-Brexit Britain as a __________ powerhouse, its __________ the envy of the world" (Herron went to Oxford at the same time as Boris Johnson, though "barely remembers more than him 'braying' outside the porter’s lodge: 'The very sight and sound of someone like that was anathema to me, even then.'").

There have been links to the novellas in the proper Slough House novels before, but Bad Actors has the first appearance of John Bachelor and it seems like there was an oblique reference to Tom Bettany, protagonist of the Slough House-adjacent Nobody Walks, as someone who had been "waterproofed".

Fairly obvious, but I enjoyed the nods to other famous fictional British spies in "Lamb barely breathes as he contemplates the future that awaits one who’s walked away from the spy trade: a carrel in a European library, say, or a stool on a beach bar under a Bahamian sun."

Among all the stage/film references, were there any to Bond titles beyond On Her Majesty's Secret Service and Diamonds Are Forever (both from Whelan)?

It would have been too much to expect Herron to leave the box containing Schrödinger's River Cartwright unopened for the whole book, but he came close. I was convinced he was dead, but if when I check back, I don't imagine that there will be anything that amounts to a "cheat" in the earlier mentions of River.
posted by Strutter Cane - United Planets Stilt Patrol at 3:27 AM on May 14


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