In the spy novels of John le Carre and Graham Greene, things sometimes go wrong. Their spies are not superhuman, or even always competent. In Mick Herron’s books, things always go wrong. Herron writes stories about the men and women of MI5 and what the British would call their cock-ups (while we Americans describe these situations with a word beginning with F). The Slough House series featuring bitter old spymaster Jackson Lamb revolves around the crumbling safe house where MI5’s misfits are sent to pasture. Except they always manage to involve themselves in sensitive cases despite the best efforts of their bosses at Thames House to keep them out of trouble.
The Marylebone Drop (Slough House #7) by Mick Herron (2018) 112 pages @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
This book is half in, half out of the Slough House series
The novel The Marylebone Drop isn’t set at Slough House like the other stories in the series. Jackson Lamb is barely mentioned. But other characters familiar to readers of the earlier entries play roles in the tale. And this time we’re introduced to MI5 officers who are destined for Slough House but just haven’t yet been sent there.
The story in this charming little novella revolves around one of several long-retired foreign assets living in England. Solomon (Solly) Dortmund was an agent for British intelligence in East Germany in the long-ago days of the Cold War. Now he lives a modest existence on a pension from MI5. The tale starts, and begins to unravel, when Solly sees a “drop” in a London tea-shop. Yes, in the Marylebone district, hence the book’s title. Apparently, some agent of a foreign power has passed information to her handler using sleight-of-hand. The misfits of MI5 then proceed to act in maddening ways. And, yes, everything goes wrong. The Marylebone Drop is a worthy entry in the Slough House series.
About the author
Mick Herron has written four detective novels and three standalone thrillers in addition to the widely acclaimed Slough House (Jackson Lamb) series of espionage novels. The Marylebone Drop is the seventh entry in that series. Every book that preceded it was either nominated for or won a major award for mystery and suspense fiction.
For additional reading
I’ve reviewed all six books published to date in Mick Herron’s Slough House series at Following Mick Herron’s clever British spies at Slough House.
You might also enjoy my posts:
- The 10 top espionage novels reviewed on this site;
- 20 good nonfiction books about espionage; and
- Top 10 mystery and thriller series.
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