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BOOK REVIEW: Secret Asset by Stella Rimington


Shortly after returning from leave, MI5 agent Liz Carlyle learns that a terrorist cell is operating out of an Islamic bookstore in London and an attack appears imminent. Before she can investigate, the Director of Counter-Terrorism reassigns her to a high-risk, secret mission – discover the IRA “secret asset” (sleeper spy) who’s infiltrated one of the branches of British Intelligence and expose him/her before more of Britain’s secrets are exposed. But more may be at stake than just secrets when it is revealed that the mole may have gone rogue, teaming up with British-born Al Qaeda sympathizers to plot a major strike intended to wreak total destruction. It’s a race against time but who can Liz trust?

Originally published in 2006 (reprinted in a new edition), Secret Asset, the second book in Stella Rimington’s spy thriller series, continues the promise shown in At Risk. Rimington, the former Director General of Britain’s MI5, knows of what she writes and that authenticity resonates in the procedural details of her novels. As most know, the “devil is in the details” and it is here that Rimington’s insider knowledge shines. Her descriptions of functions such as “agent running,” supervising undercover civilian informants, elevates her novels above the pack.

However, authenticity is not enough to make a must-read espionage thriller and, luckily for her readers, Secret Asset is built around a captivating plot of terrorist plots, double dealings and hidden bombs. Peggy Kinsolving, the young research assistant assigned to work with Liz, is a great foil and allows Rimington to explore the rivalry between the branches of British Intelligence while delving into the psychological makeup and histories of the possible moles.

Secret Asset is a must read for anyone who has ever wondered what it takes to betray your country, what mixture of character traits or personality quirks a double agent needs to possess to carry out their task.

ISBN10: 1400079829
ISBN13: 9781400079827

Trade Paperback
362 Pages
Publisher: Vintage Books USA
Publication Date: May 2008


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