Dead Lions begins with an all too familiar sense of hopelessness, as the protagonist Dickie Bow is caught in the midst of a delayed train. Does this sound reminiscent of a recent cataclysmic storm, maybe? Perhaps your memory is simply sparked by the fact that Mick Herron’s novel has recently won the Crime Writers’ Association 2013 Goldsboro Gold Dagger award. That’s right, Dead Lions, published by Soho Press, has been stated as being the best crime novel of the Year, knocking out 9 other competitors from big publishers such as Bantam, HarperCollins and Orion.
Described as “…a well written, wickedly clever send-up of the classic British spy novel”, the book has found its niche amongst competitors by offering a darkly comical take on a “…tense, and worringly plausible [situation]”. Such a situation suggests a shadowy department of MI5, compiled of messed-up, degerate or otherwise failed security service workers, who must “face a two-fold challenge: the re-emergence of a whole history of Cold War secrets entangled with a very modern enemy and the possibility of a major terrorist attack”. With a plot like this, it’s needless to say that the tension is present, and when your hands start to sweat from the anxiety, at least the hardcover is nicely laminated to resist the water damage.
Jokes aside, the award is a serious deal, and avid crime readers should certainly keep one eye open for Herron. His writing is highly reminiscent of John le Carré, or Len Deighton, author of The IPCRESS File (HarperCollins, 2009), meaning he’s got high stakes in the crime novel genre. Previous winners of the CWA awards have gone on to become established crime writers such as Andrew Taylor, Patricia Cornwell, Minette Waters and Dan Fesperman, and with 58 years of experience giving out these awards, the CWA certainly knows what to look out for.
Should Dead Lions suit your fancy, you may be interested in starting off with Slow Horses (Soho Constable, 2010), the first novel in the River Cartwright series, which was shortlisted for 2010’s Ian Fleming Steel Dagger award. Publisher’s Weekly described it as “[A] masterful thriller. . . The intricate plot, coupled with Herron’s breezy writing style, results in superior entertainment that makes most other novels of suspense appear dull and slow-witted by comparison”. And if you’ve already devoured the contents of both of these books, you’ll be pleased to know that more titles in the series are expected to follow.
Those that can’t wait to feast on this crime novel delicacy can find the hardcover in our online store for £18.99, while the paperback version, published by Soho Press, is expected to hit shelves in 2014.
Available now from Turnaround:
h/c 348pp £18.99
p/b 348pp £8.99