Knopf, Hardcover, 9780307268853, 304pp.
Publication Date: July 1, 2008
The new installment in Stella Rimington’s series of “frighteningly authentic” espionage thrillers (Chicago Tribune) featuring the fiercely intelligent, ambitious MI5 officer Liz Carlyle.
Liz has been transferred to counter-espionage—the hub of MI5 operations during the Cold War, which has been scaled back as anti-terrorism has gained priority. But there’s plenty for her to do: there are more spies operating in London in the twenty-first century than there were during the height of East-West hostilities. Even the Russians still have a large contingent, although now they spy on the international financial community and on the wealthy ex-pat oligarchs who make England their domain.
In her new assignment, Liz quickly uncovers a plot to silence one of these Russians: Nikita Brunovsky, an increasingly vocal opponent of Vladimir Putin. The Foreign Office is adamant about forestalling a crime that could become a full-blown international incident, but there’s not a single clue as to how the assassination will be carried out—and Liz is solely responsible for averting disaster. So she goes undercover, attaching herself to Brunovsky’s retinue: racing against the clock to determine who betrayed him and suddenly facing a wholly unexpected second task—unmasking a Russian operative working undercover alongside her.
Dame Stella has once again distilled her experience as the first woman Director General of MI5 into a spy novel of arresting psychological complexity and unflagging suspense.
Stella Rimington joined Britain’s Security Service (MI5) in 1969. During her nearly thirty-year career she worked in all the main fields of the Service’s responsibilities—counter-subversion, counter-espionage, and counter-terrorism—and successively became Director of all three branches. Appointed Director General of MI5 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 nonexecutive director of Marks & Spencer and published her autobiography, Open Secret, in the United Kingdom. Rimington lives in London.
“An ideal beach read for the upcoming vacation season . . . Elements of the old-fashioned spy novel–sudden twists and characters with hidden agendas–combine with James Patterson’s secret to success.”
From the UK:
“Rimington’s plot, as one should expect from a former head of MI5, bristles with subterfuge and splices in allusions to Litvinenko’s poisoning to give Illegal Action a contemporary feel . . . Carlyle, in her third outing, has depth and tenacity.”