Books on the Hill project

Today I’m taking part in a blog tour for something a little different. BOTH Publishing is a new venture set up to make exciting good quality fiction accessible to a minority group currently not provided for by today’s UK traditional mass book market and providing a new tool for booksellers to use in their drive to increase diversity and inclusion.

They’ve launched a Kickstarter campaign, which aims to publish and print 8 titles of dyslexic friendly books for adults. Their long term goal is to continue  publishing good quality adult fiction to produce a wide range of books for people who have challenges when reading. 

Their initial target is 3 titles with successive stretch goals to get them to the magical 8. Of course they want to do more and if by your support they really go over our target, they will produce yet more stunning books with great authors.  

The Project

Books on the Hill is passionate about helping people who have dyslexia, or have any difficulty with reading, to access the joy of good fiction. There are great books out now for children with dyslexia, with specialist publishers like Barrington Stokes and mainstream publishers such as Bloomsbury doing their part. However, there are sadly very few books for adults with Dyslexia in traditional mass market publishing.

Dyslexia is a learning difference that primarily affects reading and writing skills. The NHS estimates that up to 1 in every 10 people in the UK have some form of dyslexia, while other dyslexic organisations believe 1 in 5 and more than 2 million people in the UK are severely affected.

Dyslexia does not stop someone from achieving. There are many individuals who are successful and are dyslexic. Famous actors, such as Orlando Bloom; Entrepreneurs like Theo Paphitis, and many, many more, including myself. All of who believe dyslexia has helped them to be where they are now. Dyslexia, though, as I can attest to, does not go away. You don’t grow out of it, and so we are acknowledging that and trying to without being patronising, create a selection of books that will be friendly to people who deal with dyslexia every day.

Since we started the project in 2019, Books on the Hill have had many adults customers with dyslexia come in shop the asking for something accessible to read. For example, one customer asked if we stocked well known novels in a dyslexic friendly format. Unfortunately we had to say no, as they just don’t exist. We explained what we are trying to achieve by printing our own and she replied:

“I have been reading [children dyslexic] books but they are a bit childish so am really happy I have found your company!! Thanks so much again and thank you for making such a helpful and inclusive brand – it means a lot. “ This response is not isolated. We have had many adults come in to the shop with dyslexia, who do not read or struggle to read and they they believe dyslexic friendly books would have real impact on their reading for pleasure.

How To Get involved

We are launching a Kickstarter beginning in April 2nd 2021 for 30 days, with the focus on paying for the printing of our books and giving us starting capital to continue to print more titles.

There will be many ways you can be involved in this. You can contribute on the Kickstarter website itself. There will be a number of different options of donating money, in which you will receive rewards, such as ebooks of a title or a paperback of one or more of the titles to be published. In addition a unique reward from authors who are contributing to the project. You can still contribute outside the kickstarter. We are happy to receive your help in the shop, where we will have a donation box available.

Who Are We Working With

We have been so fortunate that many great authors have agreed to contribute to this project. All are brilliant authors and are names I am sure you will recognise.
Stan Nicholls, who has been a great support to me particularly with my PhD. He is the author of many novels and short stories but is best known for the internationally acclaimed Orcs: First Blood series.
Steven Savile, the fantasy, horror and thriller writer, now lives in Stockholm whose father is a customer of our bookshop.
The horror duo that is Thana Niveau and John Llewellyn Probert, both well established and engaging authors and also residents of Clevedon.
Adrian Tchaikovsky is an Arthur Clark Award winner and best known for his series Shadows of the Apt, and for his novel Children of Time.
Steven Poore is the highly acclaimed fantasy writer who I first met on my first fantasy convention in Scarborough.
We finish the Magnificent Seven with Joel Cornah, who also has dyslexia, and with whom I participated in a podcast on dyslexia for the Clevedon Literature 2020 ‘Festival in the Clouds’.

The Team

Books on the Hill is Alistair Sims. He is the manager and commander-in-chief of the bookshop (though his partner, Chloe and his mother, Joanne, who set up the bookshop with him, may disagree with this description ). Alistair is dyslexic and has a PhD in history and archaeology. Alistair could not read until he was 13 and is passionate about helping anyone who has difficulty reading. He is the driving force behind BOTH Press and has been involved in every step in this project, from finding award winning authors to contribute, the cover design, and the road to publication, including setting up for distribution.

Books on the Hill are collaborating with Chrissey Harrison, who is also an local author and member of North Bristol Writers Group. Chressey and Alistair have designed the book-covers together, with Chrissey creating the finished product we now look on at awe with. Nearly all the design work has been done by Chrissey, and she is also in charge of the printing process, typesetting. We are so proud and appreciative to be working with her.

Special mention must go to Harrison Gates, who runs Nine Worthy, and who has dedicated his time and expertise to produce our print catalogue for us free of cost.

Joanne Hall is an author, editor and formerly the Chair of BristolCon, Bristol’s premier (and only) science fiction and fantasy convention. We must give a huge thank you to Jo for proof reading the stories free of cost.

Vicky Brewster has edited all the new stories by the authors. She specialises in editing and beta reading long-form fiction. Vicky is a great professional editor.

You can find Books On The Hill on Facebook @indpendentbooksonthehill Instagram @booksonthehill and Twitter @booksonthehill

The Fall of Koli – MR Carey

53321887. sy475

The world that is lost will come back to haunt us . . .

Koli has come a long way since being exiled from his small village of Mythen Rood. In his search for the fabled tech of the old times, he knew he’d be battling strange, terrible beasts and trees that move as fast as whips. But he has already encountered so much more than he bargained for.

Now that Koli and his companions have found the source of the signal they’ve been following – the mysterious “Sword of Albion” – there is hope that their perilous journey will finally be worth something.

Until they unearth terrifying truths about an ancient war . . . and realise that it may have never ended.

Here we are. Book three in M.R. Carey’s Ramparts trilogy. We’ve followed Koli on his adventure for such a long way, from The Book of Koli back in April 2020, through The Trials of Koli late in September, and now to this final book, nigh on a year since we started.

And what an adventure it’s been. Regular readers of this blog will know how much I love Carey’s writing. And how much I love a good dystopian post-apocalyptic setting. Put those three things together and I’m a happy little reader. Just keep me topped up with regular cups of hot tea and a steady supply of biscuits and we’re good.

Reader, I loved The Book and The Trials. And of course you’ve listened to me banging on about them for the last year, and have read and enjoyed them, haven’t you?

HAVEN’T YOU. (right, you at the back, yes, you. Get thee to a bookshop, pronto)

The rest of you have? Excellent, excellent.

So, why do you need me to persuade you to read book three? You’re as invested in the adventures of Koli, Cup and the irrepressible, mischievous Monono as I am, surely? And not forgetting Spinner and the Ramparts back at home base in Mythen Rood of course!

The Fall of Koli finds our intrepid adventurers rather at sea in their hunt for the mysterious ‘Sword of Albion’. Quite literally. They’re rescued by Paul, Lorraine, and their something’s-not-quite-right-here son, Stanley, who are apparently alone on the megaship Sword of Albion. It’s up to Koli and the gang to figure out what’s going on, and not to put too fine a point on it, things escalate quickly…

Back in Mythen Rood, Spinner is facing some challenges herself, both from within the encampment and outside, with the Peacemaker from Half Ax determined to get hold of all the tech in Ingland. I was torn reading this book, as Carey knew just when to switch viewpoints from Koli to Spinner to ensure maximum tension! I really loved watching Spinner’s character grow across the three books, and become the fantastic, clever, resourceful woman we find here.

It’s these different viewpoints and wonderfully diverse characters that really make these books shine. It’s an exploration of identity and growth; from young, naive Koli Woodsmith, to the older, wiser Ursala, Cup – the young trans woman and the bouncy, virtual Monono Aware who helps Koli find his place in the world. Carey clearly loves these characters and it’s a testament to his writing that they all come across equally well-drawn despite their differences.

It’s hard to say more without giving away too much about this book. I’m confident that if you’ve read the first two, you’ll absolutely love this one too.

Hugely recommended.

The Fall of Koli by MR Carey is published by Orbit Books and is out now. Many thanks to Nazia Khatun at Orbit for the advance copy of the book, and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

The Unbroken – CL Clark

54467051

Touraine is a soldier. Stolen as a child and raised to kill and die for the empire, her only loyalty is to her fellow conscripts. But now, her company has been sent back to her homeland to stop a rebellion, and the ties of blood may be stronger than she thought.

Luca needs a turncoat. Someone desperate enough to tiptoe the bayonet’s edge between treason and orders. Someone who can sway the rebels toward peace, while Luca focuses on what really matters: getting her uncle off her throne.

Through assassinations and massacres, in bedrooms and war rooms, Touraine and Luca will haggle over the price of a nation. But some things aren’t for sale. 


The Unbroken took me a little while to get into, but once I’d hit my stride I found myself devouring it in hundred-page chunks, immersed in the beautifully drawn, albeit harrowing, world Clark has created. And what a world it is. We’ve got a heady mixture of military-based fantasy set against colonialist conquerors, with a rebellion brewing in the streets of Qazāl. One where the lines of good and bad are blurred. Characters make big, epic mistakes, and have to live with the consequences.

Speaking of characters, I loved the dynamic between the two main leads. Touraine, Lieutenant in the Balladairan army. A Sand conscript, taken from her Qazāli home some twenty years earlier, now returning. Hated by the Balladairans as the lowest of the low, but also hated by her people as a traitor, working for their enemy. She has a lot to prove, and boy does she not mess around.

Then there’s Luca, princess and heir to the throne of Balladaire. She’s come to Qazāl to prove herself worthy of that throne, currently occupied by her uncle, the Regent. So for her, Qazāl is just a means to that end. She wants it sorted, and is prepared to compromise if she needs to – though at times she’s not too bothered what lines needs to be crossed to get there.

The action comes thick and fast from the outset, as these two women, wildly different in background and social status are thrown together. Can Tour help Luca see what needs to be done to help Qazāl? Or will Luca do whatever it takes to seal her place on the Balladairan throne and become Queen? And can she find the Qazāl magic?

Beautifully complex, layered characters. A solid, intriguing world which explores colonialism and oppression. A will-they-won’t-they dance between our two leads, in a society where same-sex relationships don’t raise an eyebrow. A supporting cast of devious generals, priests, soldiers and others.

You’ll find yourself alternately on #TeamLuca or #TeamTouraine, wanting to give them a hug one minute and berating them for doing something spectacularly dangerous/daft/stupid the next. Or admiring Touraine’s biceps. That seems to be a thing. I’m there for that.

Big, chonky epic fantasy. What’s not to like? The Unbroken leaves us with a nicely rounded story, though I’m very much looking forward to book 2 to see where Clark takes us next!

The Unbroken by CL Clark is published by Orbit Books and is out now. Many thanks to Orbit Books for the copy to review, and to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for the invitation to take part in the blog tour.

C.L. Clark

C.L. Clark graduated from Indiana University’s creative writing MFA. She’s been a personal trainer, an English teacher, and an editor, and is some combination thereof as she travels the world. When she’s not writing or working, she’s learning languages, doing P90something, or reading about war and [post-]colonial history. Her short fiction has appeared in Beneath Ceaseless SkiesFIYAHPodCastle and Uncanny.

The Twenty Seven Club – Lucy Nichol

56764378. sy475

It’s 1994. The music industry is mourning Kurt Cobain, Right Said Fred have re-emerged as an ‘ironic’ pop act and John Major is the country’s prime minister. Nothing is as it should be. 

Emma, a working-class rock music fan from Hull, with a penchant for a flaming Drambuie and a line of coke with her best mate Dave down The Angel, is troubled. 

Trev, her beloved whippet, has doggy IBS, and her job ordering bathroom supplies at the local caravan company is far from challenging. So when her dad, Tel, informs her that Kurt Cobain has killed himself aged 27, Emma is consumed with anxiety. 

Janis Joplin, Brian Jones, Jim Morrison, Jimi Hendrix…why have so many rock musicians died aged 27? And will Emma be next to join The Twenty Seven Club?

I really enjoyed The Twenty Seven Club. It’s steeped in a lovely 90s vibe that is a real joy to read. Told from the point of view of Emma, a young woman from Hull who enjoys rock music, beers (and the occasional Drambuie or a little something… extra) with her best mate Dave down their local. She’s shaken by the untimely death of her rock hero Kurt Cobain at 27, and is filled with worry that she’s approaching that age.

The book follows Emma’s daily life, the highs (literal, in some cases) and lows of life in Hull in the nineties and her existential crisis following Cobain’s suicide. The music forms a backdrop to Emma’s life and story, and as someone who was there (though slightly younger than Emma in 1994) is pitch-perfect for the time.

I read this book in two sittings, staying up far too late one night and getting up early the following morning to finish it off. I enjoyed spending time with Emma and Dave (and her whippet Trev), and following their adventures over the course of the book. It’s warm, often funny, and a delightful dose of 90s nostalgia.

The Twenty Seven Club by Lucy Nichol is out now. Huge thanks to the author for the free copy to review via NetGalley. Opinions are, as always, my own.

Far From The Tree – Rob Parker

54360805. sx318

Brendan Foley has worked to balance the responsibilities of a demanding job and a troublesome family. He’s managed to keep these two worlds separate, until the discovery of a mass grave sends them into a headlong collision. When one of the dead turns out to be a familiar face, he’s taken off the case. 

Iona Madison keeps everything under control. She works hard as a detective sergeant and trains harder as a boxer. But when her superior, DI Foley, is removed from the case, her certainties are tested like never before. 

With stories of the Warrington 27 plastered over the news, they set out to solve the crime before anyone else. The local constabulary is small and under-funded – Brendan knows they can’t crack this case alone, and he’s not letting a rival force take over. Not with the secrets he fears are lurking. Their investigations lead them into the murky underworlds of Manchester and Liverpool, where one more murder means little to drug-dealing gangs, desperate to control their power bases. 

But as Madison steps into the ring for the fight of her life, the criminals come to them. It’s no coincidence that the corpses have been buried in Foley’s hometown. The question is, why? Foley might not like the answer…

Browsing through the titles on Audible a while back I discovered Far From The Tree, an ‘Audible Original’. I’ve only read one other of Rob Parker’s books (the brilliant A Wanted Man) so jumped at the chance to have a listen to this.

Twenty seven bodies are found in an unmarked grave. Is this the work of a serial killer? DI Brendan Foley is on the case. Then it turns out that one of the dead is someone close to home, and what was initially ‘just’ a murder enquiry turns into something a lot more personal.

It’s a great story, and I loved the interplay between Foley and DS Madison as they work to uncover exactly what has been going on. There’s a real grittiness to the story, which feels worryingly plausible. It’s also not one for the faint-hearted, with some seriously visceral scenes of violence. It’s a story of family, of the hard men who run the streets and what they’ll do to keep control.

I love a good crime story, and this one is absolutely top notch. It’s got a real sense of place, which regular readers of this blog will know is something I really look for in a book. Parker is clearly at home here, and you can tell it’s his patch.

With audiobooks, the narration can be the make or break for me. Fortunately Far From The Tree is superbly narrated by Warren Brown (DS Ripley from Luther), I loved every minute of the near nine hour runtime. I’d plug my headphones in whilst walking the dogs, and must admit to going just once more around the block to get another chapter in. The dogs didn’t seem to mind!

Far From The Tree by Rob Parker, read by Warren Brown, is available exclusively on Audible.

The Black Coast – Mike Brooks

Cover for The Black Coast by Mike Brooks

When the citizens of Black Keep see ships on the horizon, terror takes them, for they know who is coming: for generations, Black Keep has been raided by the fearsome clanspeople of Iwernia. Saddling their war dragons, the Naridans rush to defend their home only to discover that the clanspeople have not come to pillage at all. Driven from their own homeland by the rise of a daemonic despot who prophesies the end of the world, they have come in search of a new home. Meanwhile the wider continent of Narida is lurching toward war. Black Keep is about to be caught in the cross-fire of the coming war for the world – if only its new mismatched society can survive.

The Black Coast is one of the biggest books I’ve read for a long time. Often I’ll look at the size of a book and think that maybe I don’t have time to spend on such a chonky tome given the state of my TBR pile. But in this case I was invited to take part in the blog tour, thought that book sounds great! War dragons! Daemonic despots! Shenanigans!

Then the book turned up and it was (and indeed is) huuuuge, clocking in at nearly 650 pages.

Reader, I need not have worried. Yes, it took me a week to read rather than a weekend, but it was so worth it. Yes, there are a lot of characters to remember, and a lot of interweaving plots (and the aforementioned shenanigans). But it reminded me what I love about epic fantasy. The worldbuilding is splendid, told through the eyes of multiple characters. Saana, the chief of the raiders on the lookout for a new place to settle. Daimon, law-son of the leader of the Black Keep, who sees the approaching fleet and must battle with his conscience and family. Jeya, young thief who finds the purse she picked belongs to someone far different from who she expected.

And that’s just a few of the characters we follow through the book. There are war dragons, battles, skulduggery and political chicanery. The story looks at prejudice and what it means to change your mind, to look at things from another’s point of view and see that deep down, we’re all just people. It’s not done in a heavy-handed way, but feels like a natural part of the story.

The Black Coast by Mike Brooks is published by Orbit Books and is out now. Many thanks to Tracy Fenton of Compulsive Readers for inviting me to take part in the blog tour, and to Nazia Khatun from Orbit Books for the advance copy to review.

Black Widows – Cate Quinn

Black Widows by Cate Quinn

The only thing the three women had in common was their husband. And, as of this morning, that they’re each accused of his murder.
Blake Nelson moved into a hidden stretch of land – a raw paradise in the wilds of Utah – where he lived with his three wives: Rachel, the chief wife, obedient and doting to a fault. Tina, the other wife, who’s everything Rachel isn’t. And Emily, the youngest wife, who knows almost nothing else.
When their husband is found dead under the desert sun, the questions pile up. What are these women to each other now that their husband is dead? Will the police uncover the secrets each woman has spent her life hiding?
And is one of them capable of murder…?

Told from the point of view of the three wives in turn, Black Widows is an ingenious murder mystery which will keep you guessing right up to the end. It’s a fantastic premise for a story. Each of the three wives loved their husband in their own way, and each had a reason not to.

The story jumps between the three women – Rachel, first wife, obedient and highly devout. Emily, the youngest sister wife. And Tina, ex-junkie who met Blake through rehab, the most streetwise of the three. But who could have done it?

I love a story which keeps you guessing like this one does. Each one tells a convincing story, but each one is convinced that the other wives aren’t telling the whole truth. It’s great fun watching it unfurl as the story progresses, and be warned, it goes to some very dark places indeed.

Blake and his wives live on an isolated farm in Utah. Their polygamous marriage is frowned upon by other members of their church (the Latter-Day Saints) and the book explores this lifestyle and why someone would choose to have multiple wives. I found the whole thing fascinating, and a great backdrop to the central murder mystery.

The three wives are very different people, and their individual voices really come through distinctly in the book, each with their own well-drawn backstory bringing them to the remote farm.

I really enjoyed Black Widows, though here are some very dark themes and scenes in here. Recommended.

Black Widows by Cate Quinn is published by Orion and is out now. Many thanks to Anne Cater of Random Things Tours and Orion for the review copy and for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

Winter’s Orbit – Everina Maxwell

56254931. sy475

While the Iskat Empire has long dominated the system through treaties and political alliances, several planets, including Thea, have begun to chafe under Iskat’s rule. When tragedy befalls Imperial Prince Taam, his Thean widower, Jainan, is rushed into an arranged marriage with Taam’s cousin, the disreputable Kiem, in a bid to keep the rising hostilities between the two worlds under control.

But when it comes to light that Prince Taam’s death may not have been an accident, and that Jainan himself may be a suspect, the unlikely pair must overcome their misgivings and learn to trust one another as they navigate the perils of the Iskat court, try to solve a murder, and prevent an interplanetary war… all while dealing with their growing feelings for each other.

I really enjoyed Winter’s Orbit, and polished most of it off in a single sitting. It’s got everything you could want. Murder, political chicanery, arranged marriages, devious goings-on, a disreputable playboy prince and a studious, quiet scholar.

It’s definitely a sci-fi romance, heavy on the romance though with goodly lashings of your galactic politics and a nice bit of worldbuilding going on in the background. Our good Prince Kiem is told that he must marry his freshly deceased cousin Prince Taam’s widower. He’s not a little alarmed by this, not only as it will mark the end of his current lifestyle, but also because of how soon after Taam’s death it is, and how his husband Jainan must still be deep in grief.

I really liked Kiem (and his PA Bel, who I wish we’d seen a lot more of). I loved the politics of it, and the slow-burn misunderstanding romance going on. I found Jainan a little annoying for a good chunk of the book, and his ‘oh no, I’m not good enough’ attitude, but warmed to him in the second half. Having the chapters switch between Kiem and Jainan worked really well at building the tension and you find yourself shouting (internally at least) JUST KISS HIM YOU FOOL.

The worldbuilding was also interesting, with the very odd and slightly creepy Auditor lurking in the background. I’d love to see a bit more of that corner of the galaxy should Everina Maxwell ever decide to return – I think this is a standalone.

In short, great fun and a welcome change from recent sci-fi books.

Winter’s Orbit by Everina Maxwell is published by Orbit Books. Many thanks to Nazia Khatun from Orbit Books for the advance copy, and to Tracy Fenton for inviting me to take part in the blog tour.

BlogalongaBondathon

I’ve been intending to do this for years, a rewatch of Bond from the very beginning, and a post to go with each. I stumbled across the Really 007 podcast discussing the best Bond henchmen (and henchwomen) and it rekindled my plans. So you can blame Rob Parker and his mates.

And now No Time To Die has been pushed back (again), which seems like the perfect opportunity.

I’ve got a few of the movies already on blu-ray – three out of the four Craig-era films, and a weird little six-disc box set which is heavy on the Connery (Dr No, From Russia With Love and Thunderball), light on Moore (Live And Let Die and For Your Eyes Only), finishing up with Die Another Day.

The less said about that, the better.

So I need to pick up a box set of the rest – I had thought of streaming them or buying from Apple/Amazon/Google, but the digital versions are like 8 or 9 quid a pop to buy, whereas you can get the entire box set for about fifty quid.

I’m intrigued as to how well the old Bonds stand up (or don’t). I want to investigate the movies, the baddies, the henchmen, the cars, the music, everything. What makes a good henchman? Is there anywhere Bond *hasn’t* been?

Before I watch all the movies again I thought I’d have a go at ranking them from memory (though I have watched a couple, oops)

I’ve sorted them by Bond, then overall. Will my opinions change after a rewatch?

For Connery I’ve gone with

  • Goldfinger
  • From Russia With Love
  • Diamonds Are Forever
  • You Only Live Twice
  • Dr No
  • Thunderball

Lazenby is somewhat easier, obvs.

Moore

  • Live and Let Die
  • The Man With The Golden Gun
  • The Spy Who Loved Me
  • Moonraker
  • For Your Eyes Only
  • Octopussy
  • A View to a Kill

Dalton again is a little easier – only two to choose from and I’ve gone in order:

  • The Living Daylights
  • License to Kill

Brosnan next. Bit trickier

  • GoldenEye
  • The World Is Not Enough
  • Die Another Day
  • Tomorrow Never Dies

Finally Craig:

  • Skyfall
  • Casino Royale
  • Spectre
  • Quantum of Solace

And finally, I’ve sorted them all into three groups – top tier, middle tier and the rest. Top tier are sorted in order, the other two are just pots.

What do you think? Who’s your favourite Bond? And your favourite movie? Anything else I should be looking out for on my journey back through 007’s adventures?

Slough House – Mick Herron

50210834

A year after a calamitous blunder by the Russian secret service left a British citizen dead from novichok poisoning, Diana Taverner is on the warpath. What seems a gutless response from the government has pushed the Service’s First Desk into mounting her own counter-offensive – but she’s had to make a deal with the devil first. And given that the devil in question is arch-manipulator Peter Judd, she could be about to lose control of everything she’s fought for.

Meanwhile, still reeling from recent losses, the slow horses are worried they’ve been pushed further into the cold. Slough House has been wiped from Service records, and fatal accidents keep happening. No wonder Jackson Lamb’s crew are feeling paranoid. But have they actually been targeted?

With a new populist movement taking a grip on London’s streets, 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.

Mick Herron is one of those writers who make it look… effortless. He’s just got a way with a turn of phrase, a sentence dropped which is just… perfect.

“This was the spook trade, and when things went awry on Spook Street, they usually went the full Chris Grayling.”

The Slough House books are always a pleasure to read (start with Slow Horses and catch up!), and the series just keeps getting better. The gloriously foul-mouthed, chain-smoking, ever-flatulent, politically incorrect Jackson Lamb (soon to be appearing on our screens played by Gary Oldman) is back, and someone has wiped Slough House off the map and is picking off his Slow Horses.

He’s not happy about it. And you do not cross Jackson Lamb.

Herron has taken the landscape of today – the “you know what” which has left the country with fewer friends, less money and opportunities for populist windbags to opine on everything, the novichok poisonings in Salisbury, the gilets jaunes movement which made its way across the Channel, and layered a cracking spy tale over the top. It’s a tale of revenge for revenge, of the dangers of inviting a wolf to dinner, and just how far the Slow Horses will go for each other.

Whip-smart writing, multi-layered plotting, with some of my favourite characters in fiction, Slough House is just brilliant. Hugely recommended.

(for a more coherent review, check out @bluebookballoon’s thoughts)

Huge thanks to the publisher John Murray for an advance copy of the book.