Friday, 10 August 2018
MICK HERRON - THE MARYLEBONE DROP (2018)
A drop, in spook parlance, is the passing on of secret information.
It’s also what happens just before you hit the ground.
Old spooks carry the memory of tradecraft in their bones, and when Solomon Dortmund sees an envelope being passed from one pair of hands to another in a Marylebone café, he knows he’s witnessed more than an innocent encounter. But in relaying his suspicions to John Bachelor, who babysits retired spies like Solly for MI5, he sets in motion a train of events that will alter lives.
Story Locale: London, UK
Another short offering from Mick Herron and a reappearance of a few characters previously encountered in The List. Herron sits comfortably in my current top ten favourite authors list.
80-odd pages long with a further 30 or so introducing the full length novel London Rules.
Really, really enjoyable, and a fantastic couple of hours reading which has me wanting to pick up something longer by him.
I liked the chain reaction of events set in place by the witnessing of a drop by a retired spy. Unintended consequences indeed and an outcome which ends well for a couple of our participants and not so swimmingly for others. In some ways its a frightening reveal of the power held by intelligence services with their ability to re-arrange and destroy a life with a couple of key strokes. Yeah I know it's fiction, but it does set you thinking.
I enjoyed glimpsing the hierarchy within the service: the woman at the top, the arrogance and stupidity of the one currently on the way up, the skill, ambition and cunning of the agent in the middle and the existence of the messenger boys or pond life running errands and doing scut work at the bottom.
John Bachelor is the latter. Career going nowhere, and dimly regarded in the service, hanging onto his job, in fear of the axe, a personal relationship ended which currently sees him residing in the back of his vehicle. Probably not a situation too dissimilar to many in modern day society - only a couple of absent pay cheques away from homelessness. I was rooting for him. Down but not out and still possessing enough wit and chutzpah to prevail, for now at least. I'm hoping he reappears in future works from Herron and that the author deals him a kinder hand. I live in hope.
5 from 5
Mick Herron is the author of about a dozen novels, including five in his Slough House series, of which this forms a tasty add-on.
Slow Horses was reviewed here. Dead Lions here.
Read in July, 2018
Published - 2018 (later this year)
Page count - 112
Source - Edelweiss early reviewer site, courtesy of publisher Soho Crime
Format - Epub file