The Secret Hours (Paperback)
  • The Secret Hours (Paperback)

The Secret Hours (Paperback)

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Paperback 400 Pages
Published: 14/03/2024
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Waterstones Says

From the author of the bestselling Slough House series comes another mesmerising espionage thriller dripping in wry wit and unexpected twists, as a parliamentary inquiry into the intelligence services turns lethal with the appearance of the explosive OTIS file.

Shortlisted for the British Book Awards Crime & Thriller Book of the Year 2024

Two years ago, the Monochrome inquiry was set up to investigate the British secret service. Monochrome's mission was to ferret out misconduct, allowing the civil servants seconded to the inquiry, Griselda Fleet and Malcolm Kyle, unfettered access to confidential information in the service archives.

But with progress blocked at every turn, Monochrome is circling the drain . . . Until the OTIS file appears out of nowhere.

What classified secrets does OTIS hold that see a long-redundant spy being chased through Devon's green lanes in the dark? What happened in a newly reunified Berlin that someone is desperate to keep under wraps? And who will win the battle for the soul of the secret service - or was that decided a long time ago?

Spies and pen-pushers, politicians and PAs, high-flyers, time-servers and burn-outs . . . They all have jobs to do in the daylight. But what they do in the secret hours reveals who they really are.

Publisher: John Murray Press
ISBN: 9781399800549
Number of pages: 400
Weight: 310 g
Dimensions: 196 x 128 x 32 mm


Regular readers will enjoy identifying some familiar Slow Horse characters who appear here under other identities, but of most note is a new maturity to the writing that brings home the human cost of espionage and rejuvenates this terrific series - Sunday Times books of the year

This was the best year since the 1970s for spy thrillers. Mick Herron's The Secret Hours was a delight - Tim Shipman, Sunday Times critics favourite read of the year

A powerful standalone spy thriller from a true contemporary master - Daily Telegraph books of the year

As Mick Herron observed in his Slow Horses origin novel, The Secret Hours (Baskerville), there's a long list of spy novelists who have been pegged as the heir to John le Carré. Herron must be in pole position for principal legatee - Guardian best crime and thrillers of 2023

Splendid - Philip Hensher, The Spectator books of the year

I devoured The Secret Hours in one sitting - Peter Frankopan, The Spectator books of the year

The Secret Hours is bliss - Sam Leith, TLS books of the year

The novel I enjoyed most was The Secret Hours by Mick Herron . . . it is funny, sharply observed and almost uniquely acute and sensitive in its consideration of something most novelists seem to regard with a lofty uninterest: the world of work - Keith Miller, TLS books of the year

This is a more sober work than Herron's comical Slough House novels but even at his most serious he provides more good gags than you'll find in the entire Christmas TV comedy schedule - Charlotte Heathcote, Daily Mirror crime and thrillers highlight

A deliciously cynical comedy of manners that is probably Herron's most mature spy novel to date - Declan Burke, Irish Times best crime fiction of 2023

Mick Herron's The Secret Hours was another highlight, and looks certain to bring more awards to the author's growing collection - Jon Coates, Sunday Express crime and thriller highlights 2023

2023 was a vintage year for crime with too many good books to mention but among many others I loved . . . Mick Herron's The Secret Hours - Nation Cymru picks of 2023

Not only the finest writer of espionage fiction we have, Mick Herron is also one of the funniest and his latest, The Secret Hours, is proof of both. While not strictly speaking a Slough House novel, it's part of that universe and, for fans of Jackson Lamb (and who isn't?), it's both a thrilling and poignant origin story. Herron is simply incapable of writing a bad book and this is one of his very best - Mark Billingham, author of THE LAST DANCE, Daily Express books of the year

The Secret Hours is a genesis story for fans of Mick Herron's Slow Horses series. All his trademarks are here: layered prose, a deftly unravelled plot, lashings of caustic wit, and a cast of morally-compromised yet ultimately sympathetic characters - Vaseem Khan, author of DEATH OF A LESSER GOD, Daily Express books of the year

This might just be Mick Herron's best book - elegant prose, machine-tooled plot, mixing tension with humour. Pure class - Ian Rankin

I doubt I'll read a more enjoyable novel all year. The Secret Hours has it all: thrilling action scenes, crackling dialogue, characters to infuriate and beguile, and a neatly intricate plot. And through it all cuts Herron's acerbic wit, its effect heightened by the glimpses he allows us, from time to time, from his world to ours - Paula Hawkins, author of THE GIRL ON THE TRAIN

Great Britain has a long, rich history of how-it-really-works espionage fiction, and Mick Herron - stealthy as a secret agent - has written himself to the very top of the list. If you haven't already been recruited, start with The Secret Hours - all Herron's trademark strengths are here: tension, intrigue, observation, humour, absurdity . . . and pitch-perfect prose - Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels

For a novel about a government inquiry called Monochrome, nothing is black and white in The Secret Hours by Mick Herron. Stunningly plotted and written, this masterclass in intrigue is brimming with tension and paranoid energy. A meaty, breathe-if-you-dare spy thriller with teeth, heart and a sense of humour. An absolute addiction of a read - Janice Hallett, author of THE APPEAL

The Secret Hours is wonderful. It's Mick Herron at his best, taking us into a dark world where there is high action, a spinning moral compass, and hidden motives on every page. And, oh, yes, the fun - Herron's greatest talent may be the examination of serious things with a perfectly wry sense of humour - Michael Connelly, author of DESERT STAR

A fantastic book that kept me up all night. Unputdownable! - Philippa Perry, author of THE BOOK YOU WISH YOUR PARENTS HAD READ

A deft knockout of a story, with an arc of history, written with humour and style. Mick Herron is one of the best writers of spy fiction working today - Martin Cruz Smith, author of GORKY PARK

Positively pulses with misdirection, deception and deep truths. Mick Herron is a genius - Sarah Hilary, author of BLACK THORN

Mick Herron is not just one of the best spy writers working today, but one of our best writers - Charlotte Philby, author of EDITH AND KIM

Herron has become something of a laureate of decrepitude - Guardian

[Mick Herron] proves himself a modern rival to Ian Fleming and John Le Carré . . . This satire-flecked thriller should establish Herron as an institution - Sunday Times

[A] terrific new novel . . . Herron's traditional tradecraft is on show - the Blackadderesque relish of words, the spy-like manipulation of the reader, the understanding of how the English fend off the serious with humour - The Times

Herron is a subtle writer who offers a great deal, including psychological insights that stay with you long after the clever plot is complete - Literary Review

A fascinating insight into the machinations of the secret service and the witty writing lifts it above the average thriller - Good Housekeeping

Never has a work of popular fiction delighted me more . . . The Secret Hours will become not so much a novel as a machine for delivering pleasure - The Spectator

I'll be amazed if I read a better book this year. Tense and darkly comic, with razor-sharp prose that revels in the absurdity of modern-day Britain, The Secret Hours achieves the seemingly impossible by improving on the Slough House series - Daily Express

Herron keeps up his gravity-defying balancing act: belly-laugh spy spoof on one side, elegiac state-of-the-nation satire on the other, with a thin, taut line of polished prose between - Financial Times

The Secret Hours has all of Herron's tight plotting and characteristically low-key humour . . . It's an excellent standalone, but fans of his Slough House books would do well to pick it up too - Observer

Mick Herron is one of the beadiest satirists of our times . . . one of his best books yet - Daily Telegraph

Twisty, intriguing fun - The i

A very clever and often darkly funny tale of espionage . . . A thoroughly enjoyable spy romp - Radio Times

With all the contemporary wit and humour that fans have come to love, as well as his deeply flawed and believable characters, Herron weaves another unputdownable tale as he follows two civil servants tasked with investigating misconduct in the British secret service. A perfect cat-and-mouse chase from this very modern master of the espionage thriller. It's easy to see why Herron is often called the heir to John Le Carré - Gloss

Blisteringly exciting and darkly funny - Radio Times

Safe to say Herron's trademark humour is woven in throughout . . . Big issues come under the spotlight - who owns your data, identity, loyalty, truth and realpolitik, but all the characters feel human and individual. Though it's described as a standalone and can easily be read as such, lovers of the Slough House series will pick up on some familiar characters being illuminated in new ways - Aberdeen Journal

This is a stand-alone thriller of extreme brilliance (obviously), but it also works as a deeply satisfying origin story for aspects of the existing books - India Knight, Sunday Times

I can't think of many things more pleasurable than hunkering down with Mick Herron's Slow Horses series, capped off with this year's deeply satisfying The Secret Hours . . . I like these better than John le Carré, which is saying something - India Knight, Sunday Times my favourite books to curl up with at Christmas

A master of espionage fiction and a treat to read - Kate Kellaway, Observer

Mick Herron is our best and most topical spy writer - Ian Rankin, Guardian, What We're Reading

Herron steps away from his Slow Horses, but not the world of espionage, for this thriller . . . offering a revealing sidelight into the pre-history of Slough House. More sombre than usual but still compelling - Mail on Sunday

Wryly humorous in places, well written and full of tension - Irish Examiner

Nobody does disenchanted spies quite like Mick Herron, and in the standalone thriller The Secret Hours, read by the always impressive Sean Barrett, he is on top form. Fans of the Slough House series will be delighted by this tale of a cold war mission in Berlin gone wrong . . . A rich seam of disillusion is baked into Barrett's rendition; you can almost see the anonymous corridors of power shutting doors in the investigators' faces - Financial Times

[A] masterly novel . . . Set in a political landscape populated with vividly familiar figures, Herron's novel combines an elegantly twisty plot with pitch-black comedy - Irish Daily Mail

Superbly, breathtakingly, well-plotted - Alice O'Keeffe, Bookseller

Fans of the Slough House series will rejoice at this standalone thriller, once again set in a world of espionage, from which all glamour is largely expunged . . . Beginning with a breathlessly exciting pursuit, and moving on to a separate timeline set in post-reunification Berlin, the author's mordant wit is finely deployed on every page - just one of the familiar elements that will delight readers. Watch out for a terrific twist - Bookseller

Herron has been compared to John le Carré for the intricacy of his plotting and the thoroughness of his world building, though the two men differ greatly in tone and in focus. He has also been compared to Charles Dickens and P.G. Wodehouse for his lacerating descriptions and delight in the absurd . . . The Secret Hours is classic Herron, featuring mordant humour, bureaucratic power plays, underappreciated functionaries, bravura action sequences and at least one unexpected casualty - New York Times

Herron's narrative moves with ease between present and past, England and Germany, action and satire - Dow Jones ‘Mysteries’

I'm going to read it again, out of sheer admiration for its plotting - Tablet

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To get a flavour of what is to come read Standing by the Wall, then wait patiently for the autumn.

Hardback edition
Helpful? Upvote 23

“Excellent Read”

Thank you to the publishers for this early review copy.
It will be no surprise to anyone who is familiar with Mick Herron's books to hear that this is an excellent read.
I just love the combination of humour and... More

Hardback edition
3 similar books recommended
Helpful? Upvote 14

“Eye opening thriller.”

If you’ve not read this author before then this is a great book to start with. It’s a standalone thriller about spies, the fall of the Berlin Wall and government corruption; both then and now.
A fantastic mix of heart... More

Hardback edition
1 similar book recommended
Helpful? Upvote 12

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