By Mick Herron Soho Crime, 326 pp.
Mick Herron is a star in England thanks to his raucous, mordant spy novels, a true departure from the melancholy old Graham Greene model. “London Rules” is the fifth set in Slough House, where MI5 leaves its misfits in the doubtful care of Jackson Lamb, a flatulent and contemptuous genius of tradecraft. This time around, Lamb and his crew chase a nasty terrorist group, protect two politicians, and decide if the real threat is coming from inside the agency itself. It’s a lot of plot – often too much – and Herron spreads his sarcasm so evenly among the characters that his book has a paradoxically monotonous brilliance. But he really is funny (“Some while back there’d been three deaths inside Slough House, which even Lamb allowed was pretty high for a mid-week afternoon”) and his cynicism is belied, here and there, by flashes of the mingled tenderness and anger that seem to define Britain’s post-Brexit self-reflections.