Publication: 7 June 2018 from John Murray Books
A lot of things have happened.
If she could turn back time, she wondered how far she would go.
Twenty-six-year-old Maggie Barnes is someone you would never look at twice. Living alone in a month-to-month sublet in London, with no family but an estranged sister, no boyfriend or partner, and not much in the way of friends, Maggie is just the kind of person who could vanish from the face of the earth without anyone taking notice.
Or just the kind of person MI5 needs to thwart an international plot that puts all of Britain at risk.
Now one young woman has the chance to be a hero – if she can think quickly enough to stay alive.
The great thing about writing stand-alone novels is that it gives you the chance to introduce new characters and do anything you like with them. There’s no expectation management of the reader involved. So I wasn’t sure what Mick Herron would serve up after his Slough House Series which is such a stunning success and completely bowled me over.
In essence, what he has delivered is a two act, three-handed thriller; just ripe for a stage adaptation. This book, slightly longer than a novella but still a quick read, has Herron’s beautiful use of language and skillfully written prose as well as the dry acerbic humour we have come to love.
Our main characters here are among life’s losers. Maggie is a loner in London. Working in a mail room of an anonymous big corporation and living in a shared flat where the other occupants don’t mingle or even speak to each other, Maggie’s social life involves a quick scurry past the other flat residents while heading for the loo, or tweeting her mundane life to her 6 followers, several of whom are bots.
Then Harvey comes into Maggie’s life. Not quite the tall dark, handsome stranger, but still, the first man she has spoken to more than in passing since her last relationship broke up some years ago. Harvey is cultivating Maggie and in doing so he makes her feel relevant, wanted and for the first time important.
But who is Harvey and what is he really after?
Well structured, nicely plotted and with some stand out moments (Harvey going shopping) this is funnier than it should be for such a macabre tale.
It didn’t hit the heights of the Slough House series for me, but as a stand alone it works well and I really enjoyed it.
About Mick Herron
Mick Herron is a novelist and short story writer whose books include the Sarah Tucker/Zoë Boehm series and the standalone novel RECONSTRUCTION. His work has been shortlisted for the Macavity, Barry and Shamus awards, and his novella DOLPHIN JUNCTION was joint winner of the 2009 Ellery Queen Readers Award. His second standalone, NOBODY WALKS, was shortlisted for the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger in 2015, and was one of Booklist Magazine’s Best 101 Crime Novels of the Decade.
He is the author of the acclaimed Jackson Lamb series, the first of which, the Steel Dagger-nominated SLOW HORSES, was hailed by the Daily Telegraph as one of the “the twenty greatest spy novels of all time”. The second in the series, DEAD LIONS, won the 2013 CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger, and was picked by the Sunday Times as one of the best 25 crime novels of the past five years. The third, REAL TIGERS, was shortlisted for both the Gold and Steel Daggers, for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year, and for the 2017 Macavity Award. It won the Last Laugh Award at Crimefest 2017, for the best humorous crime novel of 2016.
SPOOK STREET, the fourth Jackson Lamb novel – praised by Ian Rankin for its “sublime dialogue and frictionless plotting” – won the Ian Fleming Steel Dagger 2017.
Mick was born in Newcastle upon Tyne, and now lives in Oxford. He writes full time.