Since April, I’ve gotten sucked into the Slow Horses British spy series after really enjoying the Apple TV+ adaptation. I’ve been powering through all the full-length novels and am now reading 2021’s Slough House, which features a character who’s survived a bullet wound to the head. Her description stood out to me for one particular detail, though:
Her hair was different. Maybe that’s what death does to you. I twas still mostly red but now punkishly short, with a white stripe across her left temple where the bullet had passed…
A white stripe of hair on the left temple is, of course, one of the distinguishing features of the eponymous character of XIII, one of my favorite Franco-Belgian comics. The XIII character is also a spy (though more competent than the Slow Horses) and also earned his white stripe of hair from surviving a bullet wound to the left temple. See below for a Brussels mural of the character that captures this detail:
This has to be a deliberate reference, right? I checked the afterword to the book—Herron’s done deliberate references to other work before, most obviously to Le Carré but also a sneaky reference to John Finnemore’s Cabin Pressure, so I wondered if there would be a shout-out there. Nothing. Still, though, seems unlikely to be a coincidence.
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