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Dead Lions

(Slough House #2)

4.03  ·  Rating details ·  3,900 ratings  ·  445 reviews
London's Slough House is where the washed-up MI5 spies go to while away what's left of their failed careers. The "slow horses," as they’re called, have all disgraced themselves in some way to get relegated here. Maybe they messed up an op badly and can't be trusted anymore. Maybe they got in the way of an ambitious colleague and had the rug yanked out from under them. Mayb ...more
Hardcover, 348 pages
Published May 7th 2013 by Soho Crime
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4.03  · 
Rating details
 ·  3,900 ratings  ·  445 reviews

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This is a superior, intelligent and a darkly comic novel located in the world of spooks and espionage. Slough House is the destination for failed spies known as 'slow horses', a play on Slough House. All want to return to the real action and are even prepared to work with one another in an effort to realise that dream. They are to have their chance when Dickie Bow, an old has-been cold war spy, is discovered dead on a Oxford bus. The difficult and hard to like Jackson Lamb is certain that Dickie ...more
Feb 09, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: lovers of entertaining spy stories
‘You want to know what Lamb wanted, right?’
‘Just a clue.’
‘He’d kill me. And he could do it, too. He’s killed people before.’
‘That’s what he wants you to think,’
River said.
‘You’re saying he hasn’t?’
‘I’m saying he’s not allowed to kill staff. Health and safety.

And yes, he could. Lamb could. He runs the slow horses, the has-been or the might-have-been spies who’ve been relegated to spook limbo in Slough House where the heavies in MI5 and Regent Park hope they’ll get bored and resign.

Jan 31, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 5000-books
This is proving to be a very addictive series. Fortunately I have all of them sitting on my Kindle so I will be able to feed my addiction:)

As in the first book we watch our group of MI5 misfits bumble and stumble their way through situations they do not understand and which are usually not what they seem. In this book several of the Slow Horses are involved in really serious situations and one dies. This author is not afraid of leaving corpses behind, including those of the good guys!

What is it
“Slough House, which was not its real name – it didn’t have a real name – was openly acknowledged to be a dumping ground: assignment here was generally temporary, because those assigned here usually quit before long. That was the point of sending them: to light a sign above their heads, reading EXIT.”
Slough House was the home of the slow horses with stalled careers, i.e. the incompetents, failures, has-beens and misfits from British Secret Service MI5. “The Service, like everyone else, was ha
Jun 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
Dead Lions is the second in the Slough House series, which is based on disgraced MI5 agents called slow horses. Most of the slow horses from the first book are here, along with the addition of two new ones. It seems there is a good supply of them.

As in the first book, these spies just can't help themselves. They sneak around, spy on each other, listen through closed doors, and do anything other than the boring work assigned to them. They absolutely distrust the higher-ups in MI5, but would love
This was an excellent sequel to the brilliant Slow Horses. Jackson Lamb and his team of misfits, exiled by MI5 to the backwaters of Slough House, are back at their desks churning through paperwork when an ex-cold war spy is killed on a bus. Jackson Lamb believes his death may be linked to an old Russian spy network that may or may not have existed and the 'slow horses' suddenly find themselves involved in an operation. River Cartwright is dispatched to a sleepy village to hunt for Russian spies ...more
As Dickie Bow followed the hood, keeping him/it in sight, it felt good to be back on the job – even though no one else knew about it. The problem with the trains meant the frustrated commuters queued to catch the replacement buses, so Dickie kept the hood in view and stepped onto the same bus, sitting two seats behind him.

But when Dickie was found dead at the end of the route, Jackson Lamb – head of Slough House, where the disgraced MI5 spies were put out to pasture – was positive Dickie had bee
Jan 29, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This is the second in the Slough House series, where the ‘Slow Horses’ reside – those M15 operatives who have made mistakes and have been shunted off to do administrative tasks. Slough House is presided over by Jackson Lamb, who, although now he appears to be slovenly, unkempt and cruelly sarcastic, was once an undercover operative during the Cold War and, despite his appearances, is not only still quite capable of out manoeuvring those at the Park, but he is fiercely loyal to those he is respon ...more
Apr 21, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Dead Lions is the second novel in the Slough House series by British author, Mick Herron. Slough House is where the spook screw-ups from MI5 who, for some reason or other, can’t be sacked, are sent. There they are set such tedious, mind-numbing tasks it’s hoped they will be fed-up enough to quit. Slough House doesn’t have a big staff, currently just seven under the control of Jackson Lamb. They had a bit of unexpected action a few months ago, so there are empty desks and a few new faces.

Carol She's So Novel꧁꧂
"Dead Lions," Molly said.
"What about them?"
"It's a kids' party game. You have to pretend to be dead. Lie still. Do nothing."

4.5★ - & it possibly would have been higher if I had read the first book, Slow Horses. Possibly. There are a couple of loose threads towards the end of the book that bothered me a bit.

So I'm rating on what I experienced, & for me the start was very confusing, but this thriller went on to be fast paced, exciting & very hard to put down. It was also full of line
Jan 31, 2018 rated it liked it
This is the 2nd book in the Slough House series by author Mick Herron.
I appear to be in the minority but I personally struggled to connect with this novel and found it hard work. Thankfully for the author there are plenty of people who disagree with me but an honest review is what I promised.
Slough House is where all failed MI5 spies go to carry out trivial chores because they have messed up on the job. One thing they all have in common, though, is they all want to be back in the action. When an
K.J. Charles
I'm really enjoying this darkly comic spy series. Brutal plotting, sardonic narrative, some very funny lines and an exciting twisty plot. Author isn't afraid to kill off important people, which keeps us on our toes, and the lack of sentiment between the ill assorted gang of 'slow horses' ie failed MI5 agents is deeply satisfying. Excellent stuff.
This series is turning out to be such a treat, with this second instalment equally as thrilling and funny as the first.

The slow horses, led by Jackson Lamb, have settled back down after their unprecedented operational antics of the previous book, but the underlings still remember what it felt like to be part of something, and working as a team. So when a Cold War era British spy turns up dead on a train-replacement bus, without a ticket, eyebrows are raised and some low-key investigations begin
I am so addicted to this series of thrillers chronicling the exploits of a group of disgraced MI5 agents in internal exile at a holding pen called Slough House that I'm deeply sad that I have now read all that are, or will soon be, available.

Why, are you asking am I so fond of Mick Herron's Slow Horses (Slough House, Slow Horses, obvious but funny)? To begin with, the books center around a compendium of flawed and unappealing characters that it is ridiculously easy to love. There's the group's s
Nov 19, 2014 rated it liked it
Mick Herron wrote a two-book Slough House series featuring River Cartwright which began with Slow Horses and ended with Dead Lions. ‘Slow Horses’ is a nickname given to disgraced spies who live out the rest of what might generously be termed their careers in the MI5 Slough House, as opposed to working in pin-stripes at Regent’s Park. Too knowledgeable to be cut loose and too damaged to handle edgy assignments, these talented but dismissed spies are called upon in Dead Lions to chase a ghost—a Ru ...more
The denizens of Slough House are at it again—those slow horses, the disgraced spies, are trying to be relevant and get in on the Intelligence Service action. You’ve gotta love the repulsive head of Slough House, Jackson Lamb, who goes to great lengths to make himself look like a homeless guy and to torment all those under his supervision. Likewise, it’s hard not to be fond of River Cartwright, whose grandfather was a successful spy with MI5 back in the day—when River needs encouragement, he goes ...more
Roman Clodia
Jun 22, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
In this second of his Slough House series, Herron gives us another sly take on the old skool spy novel lifting it into something contemporary. The set-up is that Slough House is where the washed-up spies go, the ones who have made a spectacular mistake such as leaving a top-secret file on the Tube, or spending their days gambling or drinking before being caught. Now under the malign management of the brilliantly-conceived Jackson Lamb, the under-dogs come into their own against MI5 when a man is ...more
Dec 30, 2015 rated it really liked it
Dead Lions is the fabulous second book in Mick Herron’s Slough House series. It’s got spies. And Russian mobsters. And planes and bombs and terrorist plots. Enter the Slow Horses of the British spy world, who will foil these evil plots in the nick of time! Well, the point is they’ll give it their best.

James Bond, they are not. Disgraced British MI5 agents are also known as the “slow horses,” sent to the Slough House to keep them out of the way and out of the field, in hopes that they’ll eventua
John McDermott
Dead Lions was ,quite simply ,brilliant. The Jackson Lamb series is shaping up to be one of my all time favourites .
Jackson Lamb is an excellent character - fat,lazy & vulgar but it soon becomes clear that where he's concerned it doesn't pay to judge a book by its cover. There are hints of a past that feature a far deadlier Jackson.
The great thing about this book, and the series so far,is that Jackson Lamb is the central character but is in no way dominant ; there is plenty of space for the
Mar 18, 2018 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
2 stars

This starts out reasonably well, with an old-time Le Carré atmosphere updated to modern London. However, halfway through, the wobbly plot gets stupid-silly, and the characters turn into cartoons.

There was more humour starting in the second 1/4 and continuing some of the way through. Herron's wit and humour are pretty good. This is often good fun, without detracting from the seriousness of the mystery and spycraft!

Nice moment of history for River:
River Cartwright was a spook because that’s
Apr 20, 2018 rated it really liked it
Oh that was delicious - very twisty and convoluted, just the way I like them. We have a couple of new faces at Slough House since a few of the Slow Horses died in the first book - Sandra and Marcus, both quite handy. They share a room and suspicions.

Jackson Lamb is having a quiet look at the death of an old, former, low level spook called Dickie Bow. He died of an apparent heart attack while following someone he recognized as a former Russian operative. Lamb finds Dickie's mobile (cell) in the c
A real struggle to read this book, too many characters introduced too early on, then a really dry read in my opinion
Alex Cantone
(Lamb) found his cigarettes, and put one in his mouth. “You’ve got a theory, haven’t you?”
“Yes. I – “
“I didn’t say I wanted to hear it.’ He lit up. The smell of fresh tobacco filled the room, displacing the smell of stale tobacco. “How’s the day job? Shouldn’t there be reports on my desk?”

Irascible, obnoxious and cunning, Jackson Lamb heads London’s “Slough House” where disgraced MI5 spooks are exiled to spend their working lives on demeaning admin tasks until they quit though boredom. In this,
Judy Lesley
Jul 14, 2018 rated it really liked it
It is quite nice to read a spy thriller novel where the characters don't always get it right and sometimes events just don't end well. There isn't any reason everything needs to go perfectly in a novel since it surely doesn't work like that in real life. Jackson Lamb is back in Slough House with two new members of staff who have been jettisoned from Regent's Park because of a screw-up in their career. Both jump right in when Jackson starts running an operation because of the death of a sometime ...more
Lynn Horton
Jan 23, 2019 rated it really liked it
I'm thankful to be able to turn to Mick Herron when my reading brain needs refreshment. His Slough House series is a delight, full of bizarre ex-spies who've tanked their careers, and peppered with unexpected and creative plot twists. One of the most enjoyable aspects of Herron's work is that it's chock full of peculiar British humor and irreverence.

This isn't the espionage of Silva, or the thriller of Baldacci, or the amped-up hero of Child. The Slough House books are as British as a cuppa tea,
Oct 24, 2018 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I read the first of this series a while back and I have only just got around to this - the second book. In some senses these are quite ordinary spy thrillers in the LeCarre style. For me two things raise this to something beyond "ordinary".

Herron's writing is very good. Crisp clear and easy to read. The pictures painted are vivid and interesting. The characters work well. That takes me on to my second point - Jackson Lamb. To have a character in charge of a group of secret service "failures" wit
Keith Currie
Apr 18, 2018 rated it it was amazing
Sleep easy

Mick Herron is prescient. He has prophetic powers. He is also one of the most amusing, original and enlightening novelists working in the espionage genre today. In fact, he pushes almost all others into the deepest of shades.

I could barely believe that this novel is not new, that it was written some years ago and yet has such contemporary relevance, given the current furore in the UK over the poisoning of a former Russian spy.

A redundant English spy, very low grade, dies on a bus. Ja
Nadine Jones
“Dead lions,” Molly said.

“What about them?”

“It’s a kids’ party game. You have to pretend to be dead. Lie still. Do nothing.”

“What happens when the game’s over?” Lamb asked.

“Oh,” she said. “I expect all hell breaks loose.”

If I knew how to gif, I'd start this review with the scene from Princess Bride where the Vizzini is trying to determine which glass of wine is safe: "clearly I can not choose the wine in front of me! ... And clearly I can not choose the wine in front of you!" ... because t
Susan in NC
Feb 14, 2019 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
4.5 stars - another excellent thriller with the Slow Horses of Slough House, where MI5 screw-ups go to die - or give up and quit.

This book opens with the death of Dickie Bow, a former Berlin hand who’s been out of the spy biz for decades, but Jackson Lamb, slovenly but brilliant chief of Slough House, is still suspicious. He begins to investigate on his own, as sleazy Spider Webb, an ambitious Regent’s Park suit, seconds a couple Slow Horses to try a little freelancing in bringing a Russian olig
Daniel Sevitt
Sep 15, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: part-of-a-series
A second super entry in the series. There's plenty of action but plenty of working through the problem also. Not sure that every emotional beat is wholly earned, but it rattles along so pleasingly that it's hard to quibble. I'd like to see the slow horses function more as an actual team in the future, but I'll be back regardless.
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Reading the Detec...: Dead Lions by Mick Herron - SPOILER Thread 29 21 Dec 30, 2018 09:17AM  
Reading the Detec...: Dead Lions by Mick Herron 24 19 Dec 16, 2018 09:48PM  
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Mick Herron was born in Newcastle and has a degree in English from Balliol College, Oxford. He is the author of six books in the Slough House series as well as a mystery series set in Oxford featuring Sarah Tucker and/or P.I. Zoë Boehm. He now lives in Oxford and works in London.

Other books in the series

Slough House (6 books)
  • Slow Horses (Slough House, #1)
  • Real Tigers (Slough House, #3)
  • Spook Street (Slough House, #4)
  • London Rules (Slough House, #5)
  • Joe Country (Slough House #6)
“Having a cat is one small step from having two cats, and to be a single woman within a syllable of fifty in possession of two cats is tantamount to declaring life over.” 2 likes
“Lamb stood, gazed at the nearest tree as if in sudden awe of nature, lifted a heel from the ground and farted.

"Sign of a good curry," he said, "Sometimes they just bubble about inside you for ages."

"I keep meaning to ask why you have never married," River said.”
More quotes…