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Up all night with Mick

April 7, 2021

Well, not quite all night, but Mick Herron did keep me going in bed until 4:30am. And now he’s fucked off and probably won’t be back in my bed for at least a year. Damn.

As you may recall, Herron was my great discovery of 2020. It’s wonderful when you find a new-to-you author who you really like, who happily has a large back catalogue. He kept me going throughout the lockdown and kept me from losing my mind during a dental disaster.

He’s regularly been described as “the new John Le Carre”, which is fair enough, I suppose, as his main body of work is a series of novels about a group of MI5 misfits. I don’t, however, remember Le Carre being wickedly funny or having characters who made me laugh out loud.

By October last year I’d hoovered up everything he’s written – the Slow Horses series, various standalones (including a couple of novellas, which I don’t normally investigate) and the four novels in his Zoe Boehm detective series.

Then the wait began for his next novel to be published.

On Valentine’s Day I did something which is, for reasons which have always escaped me, very popular on Instagram. I took a photo of the meal I was about to eat (along with the Val McDermid novel with which I would be sharing the meal) and posted it on Twitter and Facebook.

It’s turned into a weekly thing. This was last Sunday.

I tried. I really did. I’ve read at least half a dozen books since the copy of Slough House I pre-ordered turned up in the post. Yes, I wanted to gobble it up as soon as it arrived, but that would mean waiting another year for more. I kept putting it off and putting it off, but by Sunday the call of the slow horses could no longer be ignored.

For two nights I rationed myself. When my phone pinged at 2am to tell me it was bedtime, I read to the end of the current chapter, then put the book aside and turned out the lights. Then last night (you know how it is with a good novel – especially a mystery) I’d reached that “just a bit more, just a bit more” stage. I stopped checking the clock at 3am. It was a night of excitement. I was all in.

And now I’m spent. No more Jackson Lamb until next year.

I was rather excited last year to learn that the first two Slough House novels were being turned into a series. Less so when I found out Gary Oldman had been cast to play Jackson Lamb. Don’t get me wrong. Oldman’s a fine actor, but he ain’t Jackson. Reader friends who have, thanks to me, come to love these novels (my friend Jane was also having dinner with Jackson Lamb on Sunday) agree. Brian Cox? Absolutely! Or perhaps, as my friend Krys suggested, Robbie Coltrane. But Gary Oldman? Pshaw! (News that Kristen Scott-Thomas will be playing Lady Di was considerably more exciting.)

The news got worse. The series was not, as I’d assumed, being made for ITV or the Beeb, but for Apple TV. Bollocks, bollocks, bollocks. No chance of it turning up fairly quickly on PBS. I begin to think I might have to start investigating gizmos. Whether or not Oldman’s the right man for Jackson (he could put on four stone and surprise me), if this series is the only way to get a Herron fix before the next novel, I may have to bite the bullet.

From → Reading

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