Slow Horses is not a bad book. If I’d read it a few years ago, I might’ve liked it enough to read the whole series. Alas, I read it in 2017 and my attempt to find some harmless escapist fiction was thwarted by a book that hit uncomfortably close to home.
The “slow horses” referenced in the title are disgraced MI5 agents. Any agent who’s botched a mission is sent to Slough House to push papers around and monitor extremist websites. There are no ops run out of Slough House, and no glamor and intrigue. The duties are mind-numbing and demoralizing. The story picks up when the slow horses are caught up in an op involving a Muslim teen kidnapped by white supremacists.
Let me start by saying the deck was stacked against this book. First of all, the last thing I want to read right now is anything about white supremacists. Obviously they’re the villains in the story, and it’s not like they’re treated sympathetically, but honestly, reading about their behind-the-scenes machinations to seize power in the British government is sickening in this day and age. The kidnapping plot would be upsetting and uncomfortable even in the best of times.
Secondly, I checked this out from my library on my Kindle, and the Kindle version is not well edited. More than once, I had to reread passages to try and figure out what was going on and who was talking, because there was not a new paragraph where there should’ve been, and at times I even wondered if a sentence or two had gone missing. Also, there were times that I was completely lost because of the slang, combined with the poor editing. For example: “Everyone knew Jed Moody’s screw-up: he’d let a desk-jockey clean his clock before making tracks with about a squillion quid.” Who shot who in the what, now?
Other than that, this is not a bad book. The second half is really pretty exciting, and there were twists that I didn’t see coming. It’s a shame that the Kindle version is badly edited. It’s also a shame (for me, anyway) that I chose to read this when I did. Normally a book about British spies would be nothing more than a fun diversion. With any luck, maybe someday it will be again.