All I ever really need is a good book. I’m talking physical media: hardcovers, paperbacks, whichever. Kindles and other e-readers are convenient, sure, but I’m always happy to pick up print on paper and settle in for the long haul.
Which is why I’m thrilled to see that right now, with the holiday gift-giving season upon us, the paperback edition of Mick Herron‘s Slow Horses is on sale for just $10, down from $17 — that’s 40% off. (Shame that the Cyber Monday price of $8.49 couldn’t stick around a little longer.) I hope you’re familiar with the Apple TV Plus show of the same name. It’s one of my favorite streaming shows of the last few years, with Gary Oldman as the rumpled, tart-tongued and boozy boss of a shabby stable of spies in career purgatory and Kristin Scott Thomas as his steely, savvy boss. Herron’s book is what started it all off.
This isn’t just fun stuff for me: I spent my teen years gobbling up spy thrillers, both books and movies, and it literally got me into the intelligence business back in my 20s.
Until this fall, I hadn’t read any of Herron’s books. Then I picked up his latest, The Secret Hours, and it’s a tour de force. It’s not part of the Slough House series per se, but another view into that same world of modern-day British intelligence and London politics (with dubious, suspicious sorts from both those fields). It is every bit as sharply observed as the TV version of Slow Horses, and as fun to read as the show is to watch. Plus, a flashback several decades to events in Berlin, spy capital of the world, offers tantalizing hints of how we got to present-day intrigues in the series. As the book jacket says, it’s the “secret history that Slough House fans have been waiting for.”
I’m curious now to go to the original source material: Slow Horses, the book. I don’t have any problem whatsoever reading the book knowing how the TV series has played out so far. (TV programming note: Episodes 1 and 2 of Slow Horses season 3 hit Apple TV Plus last night, and Oldman is in prime form: smart, cynical, sarcastic, chain-smoking.) The pleasure is in the reading itself, plus seeing how what’s on the page got translated to the screen. I suspect that will lead me directly into the rest of the book series.
Plus: The book that’s on sale is the 10th anniversary edition with a foreword by Herron and “an exclusive short story” featuring the Slow Horses characters.
Listen, I bought The Secret Hours in hardcover at full price. I’m ecstatic to see this Slow Horses edition at a big discount as I start working my way through my holiday shopping lists. I’d be tempted anyway, but that just seals the deal.