Read the Jackson Lamb novels

A birdy tells me you’ve got one of mine in your lock-up.”
“That would be River Cartwright.”
“Yes, but don’t blame me. I think his mother was a hippy.”
“Smoke a lot of dope while he was in the womb, did she? That might explain today’s dipshit behaviour. And I thought he was one of your cleverer boys.”
“Mind like a razor,” Lamb agreed. “Disposable.

Per Warren Ellis’s advice I’ve been working my way through Mick Herron’s Jackson Lamb/Slough House novels over the last four months. Here’s Mr Ellis’s summary:

The Security Service, known popularly as MI5, sometimes can’t outright fire people.  Political reasons, operational reasons.  But it would still like to get rid of them. So it puts them in Slough House, a dismal set of offices intended to make those consigned there so miserable that they just quit.  Those people are known as slow horses. Slough House, slow horse.  Slough House is run by Jackson Lamb, himself a slow horse of mysterious provenance, an impressively offensive creature who looks a bit like Timothy Spall if you stuffed Timothy Spall with old pork fat and left him out in the rain for six weeks.

I liken the novels to Len Deighton’s Bernard Samson novels but brought into the Brexit age and with a bit of The Office thrown in. They are enormously enjoyable; funny and smart and, occasionally, shocking.

I’ve actually been listening to the novels via Audible. All so far have been narrated by Seán Barrett, who lends something almost like a sense of authenticity to the story. Each passage of the book is written from someone’s point of view and Barrett is easily able to capture the differences in tone and perspective. And his Jackson Lamb is perfect.

I have two novels to go out of the six currently in print. There hasn’t been a stinker yet. Highly recommended.

Warren Ellis doco

I like Mondays as Warren Ellis‘s ORBITAL OPERATIONS newsletter drops in my inbox. The newsletter is part glimpse into the sausage making of comics and telly programmes, part advice and warning about trying to do lots of things at once, part gear/music/book/comic/website recommendation, part here’s some weird stuff, all fascinating and fun.

Ellis’s TREES and INJECTION have been highlights of the last few years. You might know RED and RED 2, the Bruce Willis/Helen Mirren/John Malkovich movies based on characters created by Ellis.

Ellis’s comics career has been long and very influential. Some of the writers and artists I really dig today can link their success directly to Ellis’s work and the community he fostered. The documentary WARREN ELLIS: CAPTURED GHOSTS tells that story.

Well worth a watch if you’re interested in comics, writers, artists, and a bit of pop history.