The Secret Hours

Recorded Books. Sept. 2023. 12:48 hrs. ISBN 9798889567073. $24.99. THRILLER
Max Janacek, a retired MI5 spy in his 70s who has lived undercover as an academic, thwarts an attempt by an unknown entity to kidnap him in Herron’s (Bad Actors) latest. The motive for the kidnapping, and Max’s true identity, remain unsolved until the end of the novel. Civil servants Griselda Fleet and Malcolm Kyle have been put in charge of Monochrome, an investigative panel tasked with uncovering corruption by MI5 operatives in post–Cold War Berlin in the 1990s. After two years of fruitless inquiry and hundreds of useless witness testimonies, a top spy (code name First Desk) shuts the investigation down in an attempt at a cover-up—until someone surreptitiously slips a secret case file into Kyle’s grocery cart. The novel toggles between postwar Berlin and the present-day cabinet as the facts are slowly uncovered. The characters are known by their MI5 code names, keeping listeners in suspense until the clever surprise ending. Narrator Gerard Doyle does an outstanding job, voicing English accents that range from high-society to Cockney.
VERDICT Fans of Herron’s “Slough House” series and Apple TV’s adaptation, Slow Horses, will race for this audio.
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