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Secret Asset


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The second thriller from the former head of MI5, featuring MI5 officer Liz Carlyle

About the Author

Stella Rimington joined the Security Service (MI5) in 1965 and was appointed Director-General in 1992.She was the first woman to hold the post and the first Director-General whose name was publicly announced on appointment. Following her retirement from MI5 in 1996, she became a non-executive director of Marks and Spencer and published her autobiography, Open Secret. The first Liz Carlyle novel, At Risk, was published in 2004.


After four months' convalescent leave, MI5 spy Liz Carlyle, returning from her debut in Rimington's At Risk, confers with her agent Marzipan, an Islamic bookshop clerk who has discovered a probable terror plot in the making. Soon after, Liz is charged with finding an IRA mole within the ranks of MI5. With the aid of fresh-faced co-worker Peggy Kinsolving, Liz goes about the task of ferreting out the mole, despite disappointment at being taken off the terror case, which she can't quite let go-with, it turns out, good reason. Much is made of the authenticity of Rimington's tradecraft (she was the first female head of MI5 in real life), and rightly so. But lots of writers get the details right, and for many readers, Rimington's ratio of action to personal detail will seem skewed: every character, no matter how minor, gets heavily profiled, and it slows things down. Still, those interested in old school British intelligence thrillers will find much to like in the smart, enterprising Carlyle. (June) Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

Praise for "At Risk": " This is something very rare: the spy novel that prizes authenticity over fabrication." - "Mail on Sunday" " Tense and terrifying." - "Cosmopolitan" " A cracking good thriller" - Lynn Barber, "Observer" " Intelligent -- Undeniably pacy" - "Guardian" " Rimington makes adroit use of her expertise as former MI5 chief" - "Sunday Times" " The Secret Service background is exceedingly convincing" - "Evening Standard" " First class" - Douglas Hurd," New Statesman" Praise for Stella Rimington' s autobiography "Open Secret": " The story of MI5' s transformation is fascinating. So too is Rimington' s account of her rise in what was very definitely a man' s world." -- "Guardian" " She writes in a refreshingly self-deprecating style of juggling the roles of single parent and chief ' spook' ." -- "Independent on Sunday" " Open Secret is a fascinating account not only of Stella Rimington' s various roles in the evolving Security Services, but also of the strains on a single mother as she struggles to compartmentalize a life that is necessarily unpredictable, stressful and shrouded in secrecy." -- "Time Out"

Via her bright, lonely, and diligent protagonist, the author makes effective use of her professional knowledge as the former director general of Britain's security service (MI5) in this complex search for a mole. Counterintelligence usually requires investigators to trudge through acres of dossiers, and the resultant near weariness from examining potentially relevant detail may challenge some readers of Rimington's second Liz Carlyle spy novel (after At Risk). Something of a triple helix, the ingenious no-sex plot entwines strands of Irish Republican Army leftovers, disaffected spies, and Islamic terrorists. The combination of the false leads, side trips, and many characters, each described in some detail, all serve to confuse Liz, MI5, and possibly the nonattentive reader. Rimington's sense of place is strong and her denouement literally and figuratively accidental. Her writing style is competent, replete with sartorial descriptions, very British notation of social class differences, and mention of the vanity and supercilious attitudes of male colleagues, all of which could be pertinent in an investigation. Recommended for all public libraries. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 2/1/07.]-Jonathan Pearce, California State Univ., Stanislaus Copyright 2007 Reed Business Information.

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