London Rules

London Rules – Mick Herron

In chatting with a house-bound Sister, Gemini, not that it matters one whit, I was recommending the “Slough House” series to her, starting with the first book. It was a little rough, too much posturing and too much back story. Took about half the novel to get ramped up and running. However, each book seems to move successively faster, as the author’s narrative tempo and ability to spin yarns weaves together.

But my commentary, to my sister, in short, the books describe a London that we were around, a town, a place we’ve individually explored. Old ties to the historic City of London.

Each book has started with an obvious frame, and each tale centers around something at “Slough House,” an aspect, a cat, a breeze, and — so far — each novel has concluded with the same tiny chapter, echoing the introduction. British mastery of the classic novel form? Good writing? Sets up a frame, and while obvious in its nature? The plot tightens. Still, establishes a foundation for the reader; it’s like a novel with participation.

London Rules

The term itself, “London rules,” appeared in an earlier book, I think it was the first, or second, and “London Rules,” in espionage meant, “thou shalt cover thy ass with paperwork,” while “Moscow Rules” were more like, “don’t get shot.” My memory isn’t what it used to be.

“You couldn’t betray someone efficiently if you didn’t love them first.” Part 1.

Adjunct to the rules, ancillary, but cynically hilarious, too.

“Farce is accelerated tragedy?” Not sure I got that right, but halfway through, this novel, I finally get the humor. Weird, twisted, British satirical noises, but sure.

Reading it as whole, books nearly back-to-back, instead of over years, makes it more apparent. Farce. Tragedy. British espionage. World commentary with an old, familiar neighborhood as a background — that entrenched, indomitable, absurd British soul.

“Noon comes with bells on, because this is London, and London is a city of bells. From its heart to its ragged edges, they bisect the day in a jangle of sound: peals and tinkles and deep bass knells.” Part 2.

Really, it does. Like I remember London.

Nice frame. Fun, to me, unsure if this is satire, farce, black comedy, or straight-up spy-thriller.

London Rules

London Rules – Mick Herron


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