Friday 10 August 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



  1. I do like those stories where people get drawn into things like that, Col, just by being in a certain place, etc... And Bachelor sounds like an interesting character, too. I have to say that I like it that it doesn't sound as though he's wallowing in the things that have happened to him. Glad you enjoyed this.

    1. Margot, I can't recommend his work highly enough (to anyone who'll listen that is). There's a real insight offered by him into the murky goings on in intelligence and not all his characters are full of bravado and derring-do. A lot of them exhibit the same frailties as the rest of us. A facet that makes them that much more appealing and realistic.

  2. Col – Herron has a number of books out. I will have to catch up with him. Your 5-from-5 recommendation lit a fire under me.

    1. Elgin, I really like his stuff. I'm keen to sample some of his pre-Slough House books to see if they are of a similar ilk, albeit in a slightly different genre.

  3. Love Herron, and I immediately tried to find this - but as you say, not out till later this year. I will have to wait.

    1. I think it's going to be THE DROP over here, THE MARYLEBONE DROP in the US. Only a couple of months before you get it!

  4. Definitely interested in this, I liked The List. I have three more books in the series to read, however, so no rush.

    1. Trayc, I'm sure you'll enjoy this one when you get around to it.

    2. Oops - fat fingers.....sorry Tracy!