I was so excited to get three new books this week that I started one last night, the one sat atop my TBR, which, as it happens, was SLOW HORSES by Mick Herron. And, oh dear. I was either not in the mood for this one, or, it isn’t really my kind of read. Not sure which. But, only a couple of chapters in, and already, I’m struggling with the prose. It’s written in short, sharp, almost jarring sentences that are very abrupt.
While this might be the author’s way of making you feel the sense of urgency as our erstwhile spy, River, runs around Kings Cross Station chasing a suspect bomber, it made it difficult to read. There is no flow to the story. Things are either half described in a sort of shorthand way, or, worse, over detailed in their description.
And where the opening chapter should be tense and strained as our spy chases down a suspect, it reads like a badly edited telegram from another era. All sharp and disjointed. And when River chases the bomber down into the underground, instead of being caught up in what should be a terrifying moment, it all kind of fizzles to an abrupt end. Yes, even as the bomber blows himself up, along with, we are told, 120 other people aboard an underground train.
“The target pulled a cord on his belt.
And that was that.”
Really? And that was that? Who’s writing this, Donald Trump speech writer?
Then, further in, the author tells us about a hypothetical person sat atop a double-decker London bus, looking up into a three story building’s windows—Slough House—and what they might see there. Several pages then go on the explain how dull the paint job is. Emphasising the colours of the walls—grey and yellowing from nicotine stains—how dirty the windows are, how there is little or no life beyond the glass, and then, about the front door that’s not a front door.
All this torpid description goes on, and on, and, dare I say it, on—ad nauseam.
Hardly the stuff of either a spy novel, or a thriller. What’s more, I really don’t need to read 3 pages of how the rain was dripping down his collar and soaking his back. Because he’s on a stake out for a journalist’s garbage bag.
Let’s remind ourselves. This is a two-time CWA Dagger award-winning series. Yeah, really? No!
I’m shelving this one along with STASI CHILD by David Young, which also had a torturously slow start and a very unlikeable set of characters. All I can say is, I’m probably not in the right mood or headspace, and will set them aside till after the new year.
I think I need Inspector Chopra and some Mumbai whimsy in my life right now.