London Rules by Mick Herron review – high jeopardy, big jokes and bigotry

Herron cleverly subverts Le Carré in the latest instalment of the Jackson Lamb spy series, a farce around terrorist atrocities

This is the fifth in Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb series, which in characterisation and tone is essentially a rollicking subversion of John le Carré’s books about George Smiley. Whereas Smiley is the humane genius of the British secret service, his worst vice being reading German poetry in the original, Herron’s main spy is Lamb, a bigoted, philistine, morbidly obese, spectacularly flatulent, alcoholic chain-smoker whose newest grossness, introduced in this instalment, is spitting back into the office’s communal Haribo packet the flavours he finds unappetising.

Lamb is himself found distasteful by MI5 high command; after a previously vague disgrace, which is finally detailed in this book, he was sent as punishment to run Slough House, an MI5 naughty step for those who have suffered personal or professional reverses of fortune.

Continue reading...