THE LIST by Mick Herron, Review: Compelling reading

The List, Book 2.5 in Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb / Slough House Thrillers.

Mick Herron The List  The List Mick Herron

The List Synopsis:

Dieter Hess, an aged spy, is dead, and John Bachelor, his MI5 handler, is in deep, deep trouble. Death has revealed that the deceased had been keeping a secret second bank account—and there’s only ever one reason a spy has a secret second bank account. The question of whether he was a double agent must be resolved, and its answer may undo an entire career’s worth of spy secrets.

112 pages — Soho Crime 2015 (US), John Murray 2017 (UK)

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I had the pleasure of reading Mick Herron’s Dead Lions (Book 2 Jackson Lamb Thriller) back when it was first released in the US by Soho Crime in 2013. An unabashed fan of the British TV series Spooks and with an appetite for humour on the darker side, this novel fit me like a glove. I am woeful at keeping up with series reading, but I told myself this would be the exception — the concept, the characters, Herron’s quality prose — it was too good not to follow religiously from that point on.

Years have now passed, Book 5 is set for release in mid-2018 and Book 6 is in the pipeline. The Jackson Lamb Thrillers have become worldwide bestsellers and now John Murray (UK) have re-issued them with a whole new set of dark ‘spooky’ cover art. It was time to get back on board…

The List, A Novella

It sometimes amused Bachelor, sometimes depressed him, that he worked for the secret service in an era where half the population aired its private life on the web. He wasn’t sure the Cold War had been preferable, but it had been more dignified.

This novella The List sits between the second and third full-length novels, Dead Lions and Real Tigers, and makes for compelling reading on a standalone basis. For me though, it was wonderful to get reacquainted with the MI5 setting and some of Herron’s most memorable characters, including their spiky leader Lady Di Taverner

Her eyes had never left his during this speech. He was starting to get an inkling of how mice felt, and other little jungle residents. The kind preyed on by snakes.

and Regent’s Park physical records officer Molly Doran,

She ran a whole floor, it was whispered; ran it like a dragon runs its lair, and it was easy to see how the dragon rumour started, because she was a fearsome lady. Wheelchair-bound, with a general demeanour that just dared you to give a sh*t about it, she’d held her audience if not spellbound then certainly gobsmacked, through the simple expedient of giving the first student she caught drifting such a bollocking he probably still trembled when reminded of it now.

along with the curmudgeonly but world-wise spooks relegated to Slough House.

Writing style

What I find particularly interesting about Herron’s writing style, is that despite frequent use of comparatively long and complex sentence structures, his narrative reads so smoothly. His prose exudes an appealing conversational lyricism.

With the character development, pacing and suspense of a full-length bestseller, The List is a fantastic introduction to the writing of Mick Herron and the Jackson Lamb Thrillers. Highly recommended reading.

I’ve learned from past mistakes and have Book 3 Real Tigers on my Kindle ready to go.

BOOK RATING: The Story 4 / 5 ; The Writing 4 / 5

Get your copy of The List from:

Amazon | Booktopia AU

Genre: Thriller, Mystery, Crime-Detective

We have also since reviewed Book 3 Real Tigers in this bestselling series and Mick Herron’s standalone thriller The Secret Hours.

About the Author, Mick Herron

Mick Herron’s first Jackson Lamb novel, Slow Horses, was described as the ‘most enjoyable British spy novel in years’ by the Mail on Sunday and picked as one of the best twenty spy novels of all time by the Daily Telegraph. The second, Dead Lions, won the 2013 CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger. The third, Real Tigers, was shortlisted for the Theakston’s Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year, and both the CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger and the CWA Ian Fleming Steel Dagger. The fourth, Spook Street, was shortlisted for the Gold Dagger and won the Steel Dagger. London Rules is the fifth.

Mick Herron was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now lives in Oxford. Check out his website along with his Zoe Boehm Series and other standalone novels.