Spook Street by Mick Herron/John Murray, £14.99, 341 pages
It’s not often a reviewer can say ‘You’ve never read anything quite like this’, but it’s a safe encomium to use in the case of Mick Herron. The author’s idiosyncratic writing is something unique in his genre, which is (one might venture) the spycraft of le Carré refracted through the blackly comic vision of Joseph Heller’s Catch-22. Herron’s trips to the outer reaches of British espionage already have a cult following, and this latest entry will consolidate that enthusiasm – not least because (as always) his sardonic humour is wedded to a genuine sense of tension. We are back at Slough House, where superannuated agents are salted away. The confrontational leader of the team, Jackson Lamb, is looking into what might be the murder of one of his associates – and mass killings by a suicide bomber in the Mall may have a connection. Herron’s cutting dialogue, as ever, is priceless.
The Intrusions by Stav Sherez/Faber, £12.99, 340 pages
Stav Sherez brings a trenchant, galvanic force to the crime novel that must be the envy of his peers. The shade of Emile Zola, no less (with that writer’s notions of justice in an unforgiving society), hovers at Sherez’s elbow in this latest outing for his coppers Carrigan and Miller, up against a case of abduction that begins in a Bayswater hostel but has tendrils that spread far wider. Geneva Miller, intransigent and vulnerable, is shaping up to be one of the most distinctive of female literary coppers in a desperately overcrowded field. The author is something of a polymath, and the echoes here of Zola, mentioned above, jostle with everyone from Graham Greene to Dostoyevsky, but Sherez’s learning is worn lightly – he is still a crime writer, and his immediate imperative is always narrative grip (here set against a jaw-dropping final development that will resonate with future books in the series).