§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: At Risk by Stella Rimington

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Sunday, April 02, 2006

At Risk by Stella Rimington

I’ve been on a spy kick lately, rereading books by old favorites John Le Carré and Charles McCarry and watching the British TV series, Sandbaggers, which, it turns out, has a sort of cult following among intelligence buffs—supposed to be pretty authentic. Most of those books I’ve been rereading as well as Sandbaggers focus on Cold War espionage. This novel focuses on contemporary terrorism and its author, Stella Rimington, is a past director of Britain’s MI5.

It’s like a police procedural, where the good guys are chasing some baddies whom they can’t identify and know very little about. Each chapter presents bits and pieces of the story, not only from the authorities’ point of view but from that of the bad guys and of others tangentially involved in the action.

The heroine, LizCarlyle, is an MI5 officer on a counterintelligence taskforce that includes Special Branch and MI6 as well as local police. MI6 has reported the name of a possibly dangerous terrorist who’s disappeared from his job near Peshawar, Pakhistan, and is known to have obtained an illegal British driving license. The plot is complicated throughout by a Special Branch officer who may be in the pay of a gang of organized crime, known to be smuggling cigarettes and drugs and possibly to have moved into the people smuggling trade, and by the rivalry and one-upmanship between MI5 and MI6.

The action takes place mostly on the Norfolk coast where an illegal agent is believed to have arrived in Britain with a load of illegals and where a local man is found murdered in strange circumstances by a military weapon. Then the hunt is on for the person—a woman they soon discover—who meets the illegal and travels with him on his mission.

It’s not a bad thriller. Certainly the details of the chase are detailed and believable. The characters, both good and bad, are interesting and the pace of the novel works. There’s a love affair that nags in the background—possibly because that sort of thing is demanded these days—but it’s pretty feeble and the heroine decides quite early to walk out of it because her heart is really in her job. It’s so unimportant that it’s not even tied up in the end. The possibly dirty officer part of the plot is not followed up either. The odd behavior of MI6 part of the plot is tied up in the end. Posted by Picasa


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