This is Jackson Lamb's kingdom: a dumping ground for spies who've screwed up. Once high fliers, they're now slow horses, condemned to a life of pushing paper as punishment for crimes of drugs and drunkenness, lechery and failure, politics and betrayal. In drab and mildewed offices, these highly trained spies moan and squabble, stare at the walls, and dream of better days - not one of them joined the Intelligence Service to be a slow horse, and the one thing they have in common is their desire to be back in the action.
So when a young man is kidnapped and held hostage, his beheading scheduled for live broadcast on the net, the slow horses aren't going to just sit quietly and watch. And unless they can prove they're not as useless as they're thought to be, a public execution is going to echo round the world.