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review: Mick Herron, Slow Horses
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 19:42:03 +0100
last edited: Wed, 23 Nov 2022 20:57:02 +0100
i read a book again and tried to write a review about it: Mick Herron, Slow Horses. as always my review contains lots of spoliers, couldn't help it ...
schrieb den folgenden
Wed, 23 Nov 2022 19:32:17 +0100
Mick Herron, Slow Horses
It is a british spy story playing in London. The british intelligence unit is storing their droputs, agents who have fallen from grace but couldn't be sacked in a special building off the official premises: Slough House. An older office building in dire need of maintenance where the disgraced agents stay and work until they either die of boredom or quit the service alltogether. And because it is so funny they call these dropouts
The story starts by introducing all the relevant main personnel from the officials and from the slow horses. Some of the dropouts' stories are told, some of them are left for later. But they all have had a very dire fate that had made them end up in Slough House and gives the story a kind of London-noir impression. One of those characters whose story is held back by the author to increase the mysterious atmosphere around him, is Slough House's boss, Jackson Lamb. All of the slow horses have in common that they desperately yearn to be allowed back into the officials service. But this never happens. Besides that they have no real connections amongst themselves.
Then a student is kidnapped, a british asian of pakistani descent. The kidnappers threaten to decaptitate him live on the net. The underdogs from Slough House spring into action to prove their value by trying to rescue the kid. But things get complicated. It turns out that somehow the official service is involved in this kidnapping and that it is a set up. A PR stunt where the intelligence agency comes to the rescue at the last moment, that is the plan. But it gets out of control. The kidnappers are informed of this stunt and escape with their victim. So now the intelligence agency's boss tries to pin the blame on the slow horses who then not only have to find the kidnappers in time but also to defend themselves against this vicious plan. They show their real superpowers (metaphorically speaking) and in the end all ends well.
I didn't like the story very much. It remined me too much of these childrens' books by Enid Blyton, where kids are shoved aside by the adults, learn about some special secrets and then rush away to save the last great auk. This spy-depressed-noir atmosphere here didn't look very convincing, far too much like a klichée the author has to fulfill. Some twists were nice but others were totally redundant. And I found it somewhat boring for large parts. So for example the unending description of Slough House from the points of view of fictious spectators were only some parts of the boredom.
In the end I didn't really care if the story ended badly (all are dead, evil triumphs) or well as it does. I won't get the follow up books, most definitively won't watch the apple+ series that was made of it. My recommendation is if you really want to read it just find someone to borrow it to you and don't forget to give it back.
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k.j. parker, sixteen ways to defend a walled city
Thu, 18 Nov 2021 06:29:04 +0100
i'm reading books, and i make notes of what i read sometimes lest i forget what the texts were all about. this historical fiction by k.j. parker was quite good!
schrieb den folgenden
Sun, 31 Oct 2021 15:16:44 +0100
K.J. Parker, Sixteen Ways to Defend a Walled City
He is a snarky narrator and tells us about his upbringing (a former slave) and all the tricks he has to use. Sarcastic remarks about the city's society and how he managed to get away with everything are fun to read.
The story's setting is a fictious historical scene constructed after late antiquity with some traces of medieval times woven into. The author is blatantly stealing names, techniques, historical landscapes and parts of historical societies of late antiquity and mixes them together in his story so that the historically uninitiated might take the story's background for real. But it isn't. It is cleverly made and it is interesting to guess while reading, what Parker was using to make up his book. But nothing of it is historic.
The book is complete fiction. It is called "fantasy" on the cover, but it misses all supernatural elements that make up fantasy books: no gods, trolls, whatsoever. So I have problems to find a suitable category. It is historical fiction but of a fictitious history. Perhaps the author was too lazy to write real historic fiction about characters and events that are documented in historical records. I'd guess that this always sparks unwanted comments from historians who criticise various aspects of the adaption of the real history. And so Parker wrote this hodgepodge of fictitious historical fiction. Or perhaps history is not enough; Parker seems to have been writing a ton of books in similar settings; even a sequel to this book here.
I liked the book a lot. It is funny and interesting and thrilling. Only Orhan the narrator's tendency to make snarky remarks gets a little predictable throughout the story. Puns and snide remarks you can see coming from pages aways stop being entertaining. This makes a very special writing style that can become quite annoying after lots of pages. So I think I will wait some time until I try reading other books by K.J. Parker.
It's a light and entertaining read. Go and borrow it and give it back afterwards!
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