slough_house_nv_tl slough_house_nv_stand slough_house_nv_catch slough_house_bk_lr slough_house_bk_rt slough_house_nv_tmd slough_house_bk_dl slough_house_bk_jc slough_house_bk_slough slough_house_bk_dj slough_house_bk_ba slough_house_bk_ss mick_herron_the_secret_hours slough_house_bk_stand slough_house_bk_sh
Full Name: Slough House
Nationality: British
Organization: MI5
Occupation Agency

Creator: Mick Herron
Time Span: 2010 - 2023


Slough House is a department of MI-5.

"Let us be clear about this much at least: Slough House is not in Slough, nor is it a house..."

That is the opening line in the first recorded adventure of those who work in Slough House. If anyone really considers what they do there as work. Oh, they do things. They are given orders and tasks and eventually those deeds are usually completed but is any of it needed by anyone or is it busy-work? No one can really say, or if they can they certainly do not.

Slough House is the "dumping ground" for those members of MI-5 who have screwed up. What the infraction might be could easily vary, and does, but the destination for the "crime" is the same - get thee to Slough House. Drink too much or gamble too much or mess up an assignment or follow the wrong guy or let a protectee get dispatched or just really ticked off a higher-up and you become one of the 'slow horses' as the nickname goes for the denizens of this less than desirable posting. The poor fools who are directed to show up there every day did not do anything bad enough to get sacked outright but there is no doubt that it is hoped that with enough coaxing by menial tasks and lousy environs the bulb will come on above each of their heads that finding other employment is in order. So far, most have either not seen the light or ignored it or really weren't that bright in the first place.

Running the show at Slough House, or just herding the stock as some people consider it, is Jackson Lamb. Lamb is a most unusual man. He is considerably overweight and out of shape and yet he can, if needed, move with speed and grace that is a tad surprising and unsettling. His face could turn ten shades of red from exertion as he climbed a flight of stairs but it is a good chance you would not have heard him come up. He is very intelligent and capable when he wants to be but he most definitely would not go out of his way to make any of his charges know that. He is the king of all he surveys, or at least all that occupy the House and he can be quite a sarcastic tyrant when he wishes.

Lamb almost certainly does not like any of those forced to work at Slough House. It is a dead certainty that none of them like him.


Number of Books:8
First Appearance:2010
Last Appearance:2023

1 Slow Horses Slow Horses
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2010

River Cartwright has been banished to Slough House and he greatly resents being one of the Slow Horses. When he learns of a young man being kidnapped and the snatchers are threatening to behead him, Cartwright sees a way out of exile but as he looks more and more into it, he finds that everyone remotely connected has his or her own motive and desires and none seem to be saving the lad nor getting Cartwright out of the House. Least of all Jackson Lamb.
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2 Dead Lions Dead Lions
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2013

Some of the agents relegated to Slough House are pulled for special duty to protect a wealthy visiting Russian bigwig. Then an old spy from the Cold War days is found dead on a bus. No one thinks the two are connected except their boss Jackson Lamb and he decides investigation is in order, even though he has to use his people who have no use for him.
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3 Real Tigers Real Tigers
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2016

No one has any real use for the spies sent to "work" at Slough House. Then one of them is kidnapped. Now to find out who and why and get their own back, they have to break into MI-5 headquarters to get the ransom demand.
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4 Spook Street Spook Street
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2017

What does a spy agency do with an old spy with Alzheimer's who knows too many secrets but often cannot remember they are secret? David Cartwright was one of the best and he is losing the mental fight of his life. His grandson, River, has other worries, though, like who bombed a shopping center killed forty people.
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5 London Rules London Rules
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2018

At MI5, Claude Whelan has been ordered to protect a flamboyant MP who does not want protection, dealing with the MP's wife who is crucifying him in the press. Back at Slough House, Jackson Lamb is having to deal, as usual, with a group of 'failures' who each have their own issues.
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6 Joe Country Joe Country
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2019

The newest 'slow horse' to join the other outcasts is Lech Wicinski whose mistake makes him rejected by even the other rejects. Meanwhile, Jackson Lamb is wanting everyone to just go away and leave him alone but then there is the fellow who killed one of Lamb's 'horses' and when that person makes a move, Lamb is after him.
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7 Slough House Slough House
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2021

Brexit has an unexpected consequence. Slough House has been officially removed from the records. Moreover, its membership is declining as some of the people are dying from strange causes at an alarming rate. Jackson Lamb's team is understandably concerned but are they really the target? Learning the truth might be the only way of staying alive.
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7.5 Standing By The Wall Standing By The Wall
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2022

"Espionage. Blackmail. Revenge. Cunning. Slapstick. State secrets dating back to the fall of the Berlin Wall. All this and more in a tight package of five novellas by Mick Herron ...  From the troubled recruitment of a new MI5 informant to a botched information transfer, Herron’s novellas capture the drama, humor, and high stakes of everyday life in the world of spycraft, a world rife with both legends and secrets, where thrill-seeking and loneliness are ubiquitous and deadly, and where the lines between friends, enemies, and lovers are perpetually blurred by circumstance and subterfuge."
The stories container herein are:
The List
The Marylebone Drop
The Catch
The Last Dead Letter
Standing by the Wall
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8 Bad Actors Bad Actors
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2022

"In London's MI5 headquarters a scandal is brewing that could disgrace the entire intelligence community. The Downing Street superforecaster—a specialist who advises the Prime Minister's office on how policy is likely to be received by the electorate—has disappeared without a trace. Claude Whelan, who was once head of MI5, has been tasked with tracking her down. But the trail leads him straight back to Regent's Park itself, with First Desk Diana Taverner as chief suspect. ..."
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8.5 The Secret Hours The Secret Hours
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2023

"Two years ago, a hostile Prime Minister launched the Monochrome inquiry, investigating "historical over-reaching" by the British Secret Service. Monochrome’s mission was to ferret out any hint of misconduct by any MI5 officer—and allowed Griselda Fleet and Malcolm Kyle, the two civil servants seconded to the project, unfettered access to any and all confidential information in the Service archives in order to do so.
But MI5’s formidable First Desk did not become Britain’s top spy by accident, and she has successfully thwarted the inquiry at every turn. Now the administration that created Monochrome has been ousted, the investigation is a total bust—and Griselda and Malcolm are stuck watching as their career prospects are washed away by the pounding London rain.
Until the eve of Monochrome’s shuttering, when an MI5 case file appears without explanation. It is the buried history of a classified operation in 1994 Berlin—an operation that ended in tragedy and scandal, whose cover-up has rewritten thirty years of Service history."
Note: while this is not a Slough House adventure, it does take place in the same universe and people found in some of those tales will pop up in this one.
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Number of Stories:5
First Appearance:2015
Last Appearance:2020

1 The List The List
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2015

Published separately and later collected in Standing By The Wall.
When the old spy, Dieter Hess, died, his passing put his handler into a lot of hot water after it was discovered the deceased had a sizable second bank account and the source for the funds is unknown.
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2 The Marylebone Drop The Marylebone Drop
aka The Drop
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2018

Published separately and later collected in Standing By The Wall.
"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."
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3 The Last Dead Letter The Last Dead Letter
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2019

Published in the short story collection <i>Dolphin Junction</i>. Later collected in Standing By The Wall.
Jackson Lamb is asked to repay a favor to Molly Dornan in the form of an answer to a question about what really happened to a British agent in Berlin before the Wall fell.
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4 The Catch The Catch
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2020

Published separately and later collected in Standing By The Wall.
"John Bachelor is the saddest kind of spy: not a joe in the field, not even a desk jockey, but a milkman—a part-time pension administrator whose main job is to check in on aging retired spies. Late in his career and having lost his wife, his house, and his savings after a series of unlucky choices, John's been living in a dead man's London apartment, hoping the bureaucracy isn't going to catch up with him and leave him homeless. But keeping a secret among spies is a fool's errand, and now John has made himself eminently blackmailable."
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5 Standing By The Wall Standing By The Wall
Written by Mick Herron
Copyright: 2020

Published separately and later collected in Standing By The Wall. It is included in the prologue to The Secret Hours.
"Here in Slough House, the intelligence service's home for inept spies, it's beginning to feel a lot like Christmas. Roddy Ho is used to being the one the slow horses turn to when they need miracles performed, and he's always been Jackson Lamb's Number Two. So when Lamb has a photograph that needs doctoring, it's Ho he entrusts with the task. Christmas is a time for memories, but Lamb doesn't do memories - or so he says. But what is it about the photo that makes him want to alter it? How would the slow horses cope if Roddy Ho didn't exist? And most importantly of all, are the team having Christmas drinks, and if so, where?"


I loved this series! I want to get that out right away to make sure nothing I say further can detract from that.

Back in my drinking days, I was lucky enough to be stationed in Scotland where a friend introduced me to the sublime pleasure of single-malt Scotch whiskey. He went further in coaxing me to try, one a fortnight, different ones to see the difference. Over time I got a fairly good appreciation of the difference and saw that while all were excellent, some were even better. The same is true with a good series.

Slough House is one of those exceptional series that does not come along all that often. Each book is wonderfully different and yet each is similarly wonderful.

One of my unofficial requirements for liking a series is usually that I greatly enjoy the main character and root for him or her to win over terrible odds. I get to feel the protagonist is a close friend and that person's victory is by extension my own. What makes the Slough House series so unique is that I really do not like any of the characters (well, River Cartwright is okay) and yet I still loved the series.

And then there is the (hopefully) one of a kind - Jackson Lamb. Several books into the series I still do not quite get Lamb and yet I am fascinated by him. He is the one constant throughout the series (so far) and the author on his website refers to the books as the Jackson Lamb series but he is not the star of all the books and for that I am grateful because Lamb is not a dish to be eaten too often. But he is always interesting.

It is the writing that is so exquisite. The first book has Cartwright having to search through garbage and the author had me deep in the pile of yuck almost smelling the rot and definitely wanting to wash my hands afterwards and yet still fascinated by the whole experience. In the second book, the author needed to introduce a few of the main occupants of the offices and he used an imaginary cat to prowl the spaces and I saw this cat move about the spaces and saw the people it almost met and I missed the cat when it finally left the area - get that? I missed a cat that was fictional inside a fiction book.

With any luck there will be more books in the series in years to come and while I may no longer partake of my adored Scotch, I will continue to savor the joys of Slough House.


My Grade: A++

Your Average Grade:   A++


raven4 A++ 2017-04-28

Probably a carry over from Charlie Muffin and my military days, but any time a bunch of "screwups" can make the establishment look bad, I am all for it.

DHolloway A++ 2018-02-25

Agree with raven4, Jackson Lamb is a Charlie Muffin for the 21st century. A very good agent who hides behind a slovenly appearance to ensure everyone underestimates him. Excellent writing, characters, plotting. Highly recommended.

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