In the event you haven’t heard, the Slough House Thrillers (inspired by the book set) is now an Apple TV+ Original series titled after Book #1: “Slow Horses“. The series stars Gary Oldman and Kristin Scott Thomas.
The British mystery/thriller novelist, Mick Herron is responsible for the 8 book Slough Houses series that tells the story of MI5 “Misfits”. His last book “Bad Actors” is available for pre-order and will be released in May 2022.
As is the case with many television series, inspiration comes from reading a book. If you want to start from the beginning, we have provided the book order to read, I greatly enjoy reading a book first and comparing how stacks up when adapted to the screen. And if you get hooked into the TV series, you have 7 more novels to keep you nice and entertained until Season 2 comes about!
Slow Horses (Deluxe Edition)
London, England: Slough House is where washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what’s left of their failed careers. The “slow horses,” as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated there. Maybe they botched an Op so badly they can’t be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Maybe they just got too dependent on the bottle–not unusual in this line of work.
One thing they have in common, though, is they want to be back in the action. And most of them would do anything to get there─even if it means having to collaborate with one another. When a young man is abducted and his kidnappers threaten to broadcast his beheading live on the Internet, the slow horses see an opportunity to redeem themselves. But is the victim really who he appears to be?
The disgruntled agents of Slough House, the MI5 branch where washed-up spies are sent to finish their failed careers on desk duty, are called into action to protect a visiting Russian oligarch whom MI5 hopes to recruit to British intelligence. While two agents are dispatched on that babysitting job, though, an old Cold War-era spy named Dickie Bow is found dead, ostensibly of a heart attack, on a bus outside of Oxford, far from his usual haunts. But the head of Slough House, the irascible Jackson Lamb, is convinced Dickie Bow was murdered.
As the agents dig into their fallen comrade’s circumstances, they uncover a shadowy tangle of ancient Cold War secrets that seem to lead back to a man named Alexander Popov, who is either a Soviet bogeyman or the most dangerous man in the world. How many more people will have to die to keep those secrets buried?
London: Slough House is the MI5 branch where disgraced operatives are reassigned after they’ve messed up too badly to be trusted with real intelligence work. The “Slow Horses,” as the failed spies of Slough House are called, are doomed to spend the rest of their careers pushing paper, but they all want back in on the action.
When one of their own is kidnapped and held for ransom, the agents of Slough House must defeat the odds, overturning all expectations of their competence, to breach the top-notch security of MI5’s intelligence headquarters, Regent’s Park, and steal valuable intel in exchange for their comrade’s safety. The kidnapping is only the tip of the iceberg, however–the agents uncover a larger web of intrigue that involves not only a group of private mercenaries but the highest authorities in the Secret Service. After years spent as the lowest on the totem pole, the Slow Horses suddenly find themselves caught in the midst of a conspiracy that threatens not only the future of Slough House, but of MI5 itself.
These are the paranoid concerns of David Cartwright, a Cold War-era operative and one-time head of MI5 who is sliding into dementia, and questions his grandson, River, must figure out answers to now that the spy who raised him has started to forget to wear pants.
But River, himself an agent at Slough House, MI5’s outpost for disgraced spies, has other things to worry about. A bomb has detonated in the middle of a busy shopping center and killed forty innocent civilians. The “slow horses” of Slough House must figure out who is behind this act of terror before the situation escalates.
At MI5 headquarters Regent’s Park, First Desk Claude Whelan is learning the ropes the hard way. Tasked with protecting a beleaguered prime minister, he’s facing attack from all directions: from the showboating MP who orchestrated the Brexit vote, and now has his sights set on Number Ten; from the showboat’s wife, a tabloid columnist, who’s crucifying Whelan in print; from the PM’s favorite Muslim, who’s about to be elected mayor of the West Midlands, despite the dark secret he’s hiding; and especially from his own deputy, Lady Di Taverner, who’s alert for Claude’s every stumble.
Meanwhile, the country’s being rocked by an apparently random string of terror attacks. Over at Slough House, the MI5 satellite office for outcast and demoted spies, the agents are struggling with personal problems: repressed grief, various addictions, retail paralysis, and the nagging suspicion that their newest colleague is a psychopath. Plus someone is trying to kill Roddy Ho. But collectively, they’re about to rediscover their greatest strength–that of making a bad situation much, much worse.
In Slough House, the London outpost for disgraced MI5 spies, memories are stirring, all of them bad. Catherine Standish is buying booze again, Louisa Guy is raking over the ashes of lost love, and new recruit Lech Wicinski, whose sins make him an outcast even among the slow horses, is determined to discover who destroyed his career, even if he tears his life apart in the process.
Meanwhile, in Regent’s Park, Diana Taverner’s tenure as First Desk is running into difficulties. If she’s going to make the Service fit for purpose, she might have to make deals with a familiar old devil . . . And with winter taking its grip, Jackson Lamb would sooner be left brooding in peace, but even he can’t ignore the dried blood on his carpets. So when the man responsible for killing a slow horse breaks cover at last, Lamb sends the slow horses out to even the score.
At Slough House–MI5’s London depository for demoted spies–Brexit has taken a toll. The “slow horses” have been pushed further into the cold, Slough House has been erased from official records, and its members are dying in unusual circumstances, at an unusual clip. No wonder Jackson Lamb’s crew is feeling paranoid. But are they actually targets? With a new populist movement taking hold of London’s streets and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s a dangerous place for those deemed surplus. Jackson Lamb and the slow horses are in a fight for their lives as they navigate dizzying layers of lies, power, and death.
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.
Has Taverner overplayed her hand at last? Meanwhile, her Russian counterpart, Moscow intelligence’s First Desk, has cheekily showed up in London and shaken off his escort. Are the two unfortunate events connected?
Over at Slough House, where Jackson Lamb presides over some of MI5’s most embittered demoted agents, the slow horses are doing what they do best, and adding a little bit of chaos to an already unstable situation . . . There are bad actors everywhere, and they usually get their comeuppance before the credits roll. But politics is a dirty business, and in a world where lying, cheating and backstabbing are the norm, sometimes the good guys can find themselves outgunned.
Watch Trailer for Apple TV+ for “Slow Horses”:
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