Mick Herron's latest novel, Nobody Walks, is a stand-alone thriller published by Soho Press. It follows on his great success in winning the CWA Gold Dagger for Dead Lions. Now I have to confess that, as yet, I haven't read Dead Lions, but one thing I can say is that if it is any better than Nobody Walks, I really must get round to it very soon. Because Nobody Walks is gripping and very well written, with absolutely no padding..
In fact, the style reminds me rather of early Len Deighton, not just because it deals with a maverick from the spying world, but because the prose is taut and witty. In my teens I devoured books like Horse Under Water and Billion Dollar Brain, and absolutely loved them. Very few writers since then have come close to matching Len Deighton, but Mick Herron is a class act.
This book follows the attempt of a man called Bettany to discover the reason for the death of his son Liam, from whom he was estranged. Liam worked for a game company run by a mysterious character called Driscoll, and it eventually becomes apparent that the Secret Services have some kind of interest in Driscoll. But is that a cover for something more sinister? The setting is London, and it's beautifully evoked, with a series of crisp and memorable images. Bettany makes one big mistake which I found surprising, to say the least, but overall it's not too difficult to suspend disbelief, and the story rattles along to a very dark climax.
Mick Herron is someone I've met a few times at crime writing events, and coincidentally he, like me, has had a day job in the employment law field. I first became aware of his work before we met, when he contributed a short story to an anthology I edited some years back.The only reason I've not read his novels before is that lame old excuse, lack of time. But now I know just how good they are, I've every incentive to catch up with his backlist..