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Secret Asset by Stella Rimington
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Secret Asset

by Stella Rimington

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Secret Asset, the 2nd in Stella Rimington's series starring Liz Carlyle, is a fast-paced cat & mouse thriller that doesn't let up. Carlyle, a MI5 operator in London, returns to work after an injury and is thrust into the search for a supposedly inactive Northern Irish mole in the British intelligence service. Concurrently, a Pakistani terrorist cell is planning something big in London and, due to her previous relationship with an informer, she's drawn into that investigation as well.

To avoid the risk of spoiling the plot, that's as far as I'll go. Suffice to say that Ms. Carlyle is kept busy and her acumen in reading people comes in handy.

I've really enjoyed this series so far. Rimington has a background in British intelligence, so the spy stuff has a ring of authenticity to it. Carlyle is a really good character that I'm sure will be developed further in subsequent novels, and the supporting cast is well done. The writing is very good, and the dialogue is as well. The plot in Secret Asset is believable and concludes nicely. I liked the description of the post-mortem activities after the action wrapped up- it seems a lot of thrillers seem to end abruptly, but the reality is probably more like what's described in this situation. ( )
  gmmartz | Jun 27, 2016 |
The second in the Liz Carlyle series and better than the first. Liz is tasked with looking for a sleeper IRA mole within MI5 and, at the same time, her asset at the Islamic bookstore reports the arrival of an extremist imam. Liz knows that the mole went to Oxford at a particular time and so this narrows the suspects to five. She and an agent seconded from MI6 dig into their pasts, applications and referees. The identity of the mole is gradually revealed in a way which encourages the reader to puzzle it out too. I liked the finale in Oxford: all the landmarks, streets and buildings referred to are familiar to me.

Slight detractions: my copy has proof-reading issues (which a previous library borrower has helpfully marked) and it's "shoo-in", not "shoe-in". Maguire's character just sorted of faded out. Also, it seemed odd to me that Liz had no scruples about investigating her best friend in the service and a man she was considering sleeping with - conflict surely! ( )
  pgchuis | May 25, 2016 |
Started October 14th, 2013.
Great book, 2nd in the series. Very brilliant British English.
Could have been a bit more complicated or more twists. But ok, the persons are well described, not too much private life which does not contribute to the main story, just enough so you get to know the characters, subtly played as they sometime get to know each other.
The main characters are great and even the dark bad ones are complicated enough to be not only black, but more like a subtle grey which gets darker as the story progresses - also in this book much to the surprise if the Mi5-collegues. Even in the end they can only guess as to the motives behind the actions. And even then they question how much good was there, for a person who gives the impression to really like his (or her) job.
So why only 4 stars? Not enough action and at times too much explanations, but other might say it is 5 stars without thinking twice. For me, something is still missing. The convenient ending was too much of a coincidence, it could have been better with either an escape or a capture. Or some assault which could not be stopped in time, May be that is something which happens in one of the next books?
Highly recommended.
( )
  Ingo.Lembcke | Oct 27, 2015 |
Compelling and enjoyable thriller - this is a great series. Highly recommended for any fan of thrillers. ( )
  cazfrancis | Nov 28, 2013 |
The second in the series (I've read book 3) and this time Liz in on the trail of a mole in MI5. this one was planted by the IRA and it's the death of an IRA hardliner that brings the case to light in the first place. The list of possible suspects is narrowed down and Liz heads off in search of them. Alongside this, there's a Muslim terrorist cell of 3 who are on the loose, being found at a bookshop, but them being lost and found and lost again.
I like the way that you see inside the MI5 team, but also the details of the outside world. So a chapter on the cell is often told via their interaction with other people (the neighbours, the farmer, the policeman) rather than necessarily from them.
I took a guess at the mole ahead of the reveal, but I suspect you're supposed to manage to come to that conclusion ahead of the reveal - make you feel smug for a couple of chapters that you're ahead of the game. And as you have additional information, I also knew why and guessed the target as well. But again, the breadcrumbs are there, so i can't claim ace detecting skills or anything. It's pacy, and not too lightweight. I listened to this in the car and it's a good listen in that environment. ( )
  Helenliz | Nov 7, 2013 |
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MI5 Intelligence Officer, Liz Carlyle learns from one of her agents that suspicious meetings have been taking place at an Islamic bookshop. She feels instinctively that a terrorist cell is at work and when she reports this to the Director of Counter Terrorism, a surveillance operation is immediately put into place.… (more)

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