Two vastly different authors with two vastly different backgrounds both introduce their spy novels on the final day of Aye Write in Glasgow, grounding the audience in the world of spooks. Chris Morgan Jones introduces us to his American self-discovering protagonist, Isaac Hammer, whilst Mick Herron drags us into Slough House, also known as the Jackson Lamb series, who is more of a reactionary agent, in this case to a proper terrorist event in London, something that has become too commonplace for comforts as of late.
For eleven years Chris Morgan Jones worked at the world’s largest business intelligence agency. He has advised Middle Eastern governments, Russian oligarchs, New York banks, London hedge funds and African mining companies. He brings a world that he is frequented with alive in his fiction, which includes his most recent novel, The Searcher.
Mick Herron is a novelist and short story writer whose books include Slow Horses, the first in the Slough House series and then following that, Dead Lions, which won the 2013 CWA Goldsboro Gold Dagger, and he was here discussing the third in the series, Spook Street. I stress, two vastly different authors.
Intimate and cosy, it was a lovely event which focussed heavily on building lead characters and influences. Chris Morgan Jones mentioned that he was greatly inspired by Arthur Conan Doyle and the creation of Sherlock Holmes whereas Mick Herron highlighted that he had been compared to John Le Carre (the godfather of the spy novel) but admitted that he feels a traitor to lay claim to that. He writes espionage-led thrillers, with a distinct hint of self-loathing in the lead characters. Crew-ups and misfits amidst the plot are also not uncommon.
Morgan Jones’ world is dark and he highlights successful people and how they shut down and excludes certain elements of life by being a workaholic for example. Jackson Lamb as the lead character is very protective of what he can control perhaps within these novels, and therefore it is clear to spot the distinctly differing style of spy novel with both novelists. A wonderful event that takes apart the spy novel as a genre, and allows the audience to see how there are variations within.
The Searcher was published by Pan Macmillan on 26th January 2017 and Spook Street was out on 9th February 2017 by John Murray.