The Catch: A Slough House Novella | Mick Herron | John Murray | 14 January 2020 | RRP $22.99 | 9781529331677
As I (impatiently) await the release of a new Slough House novel, this snack-size interlude serves as a wonderful reminder of just how brilliant Mick Herron’s series of espionage novels are; not reliant on Hollywood pyrotechnics or gunplay, but compelling because of the interplay between distinguishable characters, and their clever plotting. The Catch is one of those rare novellas that deepens and enriches the lore of its creators world.
Intelligence Service operative John Bachelor — although it’s a stretch to call him ‘operational’ — is living rent-free in a dead spook’s apartment. Poor John, a ‘Milkman’ for the service, is down on his luck; and the arrival of two Regent’s Park heavies early one morning hardly signals a change in his fortune. They’re looking for a man named Benny Manors, who Bachelor was being paid for by the service to monitor, but whose lackadaisical tendencies have allowed Manors to vanish. If Bachelor doesn’t find Manors — and quickly — he faces not only the end of his living arrangements, but quite possibly the end of his life. Little does he realise he is merely a pawn in a game being played by powerful figures attempting to control a scandal involving a member of the Royal family and a paedophile.
Another well-crafted entry in Herron’s fiendishly good Slough House series. Don’t let its slight page count fool you; The Catch provides twists aplenty.