Slough House by Mick Herron

Author Mick Herron collecting the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award, July 2022.

We are thrilled to share that Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award winner Slough House by Mick Herron is our August pick for the HIF Book of the Month!

Mick Herron began writing the Slough House series, featuring MI5 agents who have been exiled from the mainstream for various offences, in 2008 after being inspired by real world events. The first novel, Slow Horses, was published in 2010. Some years later, it was hailed by the Daily Telegraph as one of “the twenty greatest spy novels of all time”.

With Slough House, Mick Herron takes on the corruption of the media and politics that influence our lives, whilst expertly crafting a modern spy novel that will keep readers gripped to the end.

Read on to find out more, read our interview with Mick Herron, and get your copy of Slough House…

“The best modern British spy series”
– Daily Express

About the book:

Slough House – the crumbling office building to which failed spies, the ‘slow horses’, are banished – has been wiped from secret service records. Reeling from recent losses in their ranks, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold, and fatal accidents keep happening.  With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, the aftermath of a blunder by the Russian secret service that left a British citizen dead, and the old order ensuring that everything’s for sale to the highest bidder, the world’s an uncomfortable place for those deemed surplus to requirements. The wise move would be to find a safe place and wait for the troubles to pass. But the slow horses aren’t famed for making wise decisions.

About the author:

Mick Herron is a bestselling and award-winning novelist and short story writer, best known for his Slough House thrillers. The series has been adapted into a TV series starring Oscar-winning actor Gary Oldman as Jackson Lamb.

Raised in Newcastle upon Tyne, Herron studied English Literature at Oxford, where he continues to live. After some years writing poetry, he turned to fiction, and – despite a daily commute into London, where he worked as a sub editor – found time to write about 350 words a day. His first novel, Down Cemetery Road, was published in 2003. This was the start of Herron’s Zoë Boehm series, set in Oxford and featuring detective Zoë Boehm and civilian Sarah Tucker. The other books in the series are The Last Voice You Hear, Why We Die, and Smoke and Whispers, set in his native Newcastle. During the same period he wrote a number of short stories, many of which appeared in Ellery Queen’s Mystery Magazine.

The Slough House novels have been published in 20 languages; have won both the CWA Steel and Gold daggers; have been shortlisted for the Theakstons Crime Novel of the Year four times; and have won Denmark’s Palle Rosenkrantz prize. Mick is also the author of the highly acclaimed novels Reconstruction, This is What Happened and Nobody Walks.

Q&A with Mick Herron:

We like to start our interviews by asking our authors to introduce themselves. Can you tell our readers a little about yourself?

I’m the author of the Slough House novels, about a bunch of failed spies. I write full time, and I live in Oxford.

When did you start writing fiction? What made you want to start the long, often arduous, process of writing a book?

I’ve been writing fiction for as long as I remember – I started young, stopped for a while, then started again. Like most forms of addiction, it’s easier to give in to than struggle against. Writing a novel can indeed be arduous, but I’d find not writing much more difficult.

What’s the most difficult part of writing a crime book?

Starting. When a book’s unwritten, it’s perfect. Starting to write it means accepting that you’re going to mess up again.

One thing we always love to know, what does your typical writing day look like?

It mostly looks like an indolent man going to some lengths to avoid doing any work … A lot of the process involves mulling and musing, and even the actual writing is often a matter of staring at a screen rather than resorting to the keyboard. But however busy or otherwise I appear to be, I’m only those things between the hours of 10 and 4. The rest of the time, I’m off duty.

We’ve heard of some unusual writing habits over the years, what would you say is your most interesting writing quirk?

I wish I had one!

Which writers have influenced your own writing the most?

Hard to say … Influences are more often noticed by readers that writers, I think. I’m probably mostly under the sway of the authors of the innumerable novels I read between the ages of, say, 12 and 20. The majority of them, I’ve long forgotten. But their legacy lives on, in an undefinable sort of way.

What’s the best book you’ve read recently?

Elizabeth Jane Howard’s Casting Off.

What did winning the Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award mean to you?

So much, so much … I genuinely felt that being on the short list was achievement enough, given the high standard set by my colleagues. To be lucky enough to carry off the award, though … That’s a career highlight.

What advice do you have for any aspiring future winners of the Award?

Never write books with the aim of winning an award! Write each for its own sake, and find as much joy in the process as you can. But read, too… Reading the Award’s short lists from the past few years will give some idea of the breadth of the genre, and how open it is to new voices and fresh perspectives. That’s something to take encouragement from. There’s always room for new talent.

What’s next for you?

There’s a short story appearing in late November – a Slough House Christmas tale called “Standing by the Wall” – and I’m working on a standalone novel called The Secret Hours. It should appear in September 2023.