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Secret Hours

The Instant Sunday Times Bestselling Thriller from the Author of Slow Horses


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
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24 x 16 cm
Theakston Old Peculier Crime Novel of the Year Award 2024



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

«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»


«Mick Herron is one of the beadiest satirists of our times . . . one of his best books yet»

Daily Telegraph

«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 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

«Mick Herron is our best and most topical spy writer»

Ian Rankin, Guardian, What We're Reading

«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




Philip Hensher, The Spectator books of the year

«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»


«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

«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

«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

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


«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

«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

«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!»


«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

«[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

«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»


«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

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