Review: Bad Actors by Mick Herron

Mick Herron’s caustically satirical spy series continues with “Bad Actors,” its eighth instalment, which deals with the disappearance of Sophie de Greer, a ‘superforecaster’ employed by the British government — who might be a Russian agent, which would be very bad news indeed for the man who hired her; Anthony Sparrow, the Prime Minister’s key adviser; and for MI5 chief Diane Taverner, who must rely on Jackson Lamb’s ragtag collection of misfits, failures and exiles to dig her out of a very black hole.

As ever, Herron mocks — with great solemnity — the spy genre, and the real-world politics and bureaucracy of Britain’s grand espionage machine. The action is masterfully choreographed, and the plot is as finely-tuned as you’d expect; but everything transpires with a caricaturistic gleam. A car chase occurs in a vehicle barely roadworthy; character heroics are serendipitous, regardless of how calculated their intentions might be. 

In straddling the line between the farce and drama, Herron has breathed fresh life into spy fiction. He is a virtuoso of the craft, and “Bad Actors” is another masterful entry into a series whose quality shows no signs of abating. 

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