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Post-Useful Misfits

Thomas Jones: Mick Herron’s Spies, 19 October 2023

The Secret Hours 
by Mick Herron.
Baskerville, 393 pp., £22, September, 978 1 3998 0053 2
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... One​ of the minor characters in Mick Herron’s latest thriller is an ‘espionage novelist whose recent decalogy about a molehunt in the upper echelons of what she referred to as the Fairground had her pegged by some as the heir to le Carré – one of an admittedly long list of legatees’. It’s hard not to read this throwaway remark as a glancing, self-deprecating self-portrait: in the universe that Herron has created in his Slough House series, the headquarters of one of Britain’s intelligence agencies is ‘the Park’ rather than ‘the Fairground’ or, as in le Carré, ‘the Circus’; there are only eight novels so far, not ten; and though ‘a molehunt in the upper echelons’ is fundamental to the fictional world that Herron has created, it happened in the past, as part of the deep background to the series, rather than being central to any of the novels’ plots as they unfold ...

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