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by Stella Rimington
Hutchinson, August 2006
352 pages
ISBN: 0091800242

Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

In this outing, MI5 operative Liz Carlyle is confronted by a reminder of a traditional enemy, the IRA, and forces of the new face of terror, Islamist fanatics.

An asset, Marzipan, formerly run by Liz but now in the charge of one of her colleagues, tells Liz about what appears to be a plot intended to damage England in some way. The conspirators follow Islam and it is possible they intend to pursue a suicidal path to wreak destruction.

Meanwhile, Liz is told that an Irish informer has notified MI5 that a 'sleeper' had been introduced into their ranks years previously. Because of the peace talks with the IRA, the person had never been activated but now MI5 is aware of his existence, they feel he must be neutralised lest he work with current enemies to destabilise the intelligence service.

As the investigation into the Islamic plot continues, it becomes obvious that the men involved are somehow learning of activities set to thwart them as soon as the plans are formulated. Liz is charged with uncovering the identity of the mole. The number of colleagues Liz needs to investigate is small: only Oxford graduates are included as suspects.

Liz has to travel to Ireland to interview a university don who would have known the malefactor when he attended the institution but before the teacher can be interviewed a second time, he is murdered.

Given her previous career with MI5, it is unsurprising that Rimington conveys a true air of authenticity to her work. Even the impression that not every moment of an operative's life is chock full of action, is conveyed. For that matter, the pace tends to pick up in fits and starts depending on what is being investigated at any time.

A largish bouquet of bodies is presented to the reader by the author which caused me, for one, to wonder if Rimington ever saw associated cases of murder during forays into terror during her career.

Liz Carlyle's character, complete with the obligatory personal problems, is well done. The details of offices and office meetings are convincingly drawn. Pace, as mentioned previously, is patchy. I felt that the mystery of the identity of the mole could have been heightened. I also felt that the denouement was something of a fizzer -- possibly a deliberate descent into bathos but one which, for me, tended to discredit part of the preceding action.

Reviewed by Denise Pickles, August 2006

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)

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