The second of Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb thrillers is as good as the first. But … you have to love the characters. Perhaps ‘love’ is the wrong way of putting it. They are, generally, not very nice people, Lamb in particular. They are constantly insulting each other, lying to each other, and working in the most dysfunctional organisation ever, which may well accurately describe the British intelligence services. But likeable they are not.
They are, however, eminently watchable, and part of the pleasure of watching them is seeing the discarded, despised screw-ups of MI5 who have been exiled to Slough House in the end save the day (yet again).
The story in this second volume is the weak part — it’s all rather implausible, as other reviewers have noted — but that’s not the point.
If I want to read a plausible story about how Russian agents operate in the West, I’d read the Mueller Report.
This is British espionage fiction in the best tradition not only of John le Carré but — dare I say it — of Ian Fleming as well.