The woman who formerly headed Britain's intelligence service (and what would Ian Fleming have made of that?) comes in from the cold with a smart, clever, and brilliantly paced thriller that seems ripped from the headlines--if not today's, then probably tomorrow's. Liz Carlyle is an agent-runner in MI-5's Joint Counter-Terrorist Group, which is facing the ultimate intelligence nightmare; an "invisible," a terrorist who's an ethnic native of the target country and thus able to cross its borders unchecked and move around its environs unquestioned. All Liz and her team have to go on is the suspicion that a local fisherman who was shot with an unusual armor-piercing gun known to be favored by foreign agents and whose body was found in the restroom of a transport café near a smuggler's beach may have been involved in helping an undercover operative known as "Vengeance Before God" enter England without benefit of passport or visa--a man whose mission, if not his identity, has been the subject of recent intelligence "chatter" from militant Muslim sources. And while Liz thinks she knows who the operative is--an Afghani with forged papers last seen in a German port city--she doesn't have a clue about the "invisible" who's helping him, or the target in their crosshairs.
This is a tightly drawn, expertly told tale that wastes few words in describing the shadowy world of the intelligence services, the turf battles and infighting, and even the romantic entanglements that attend the lives of those involved. It marks a promising second career for its author, whose future success will doubtless be much more public than her earlier accomplishments. --Jane Adams
From Publishers Weekly
The first woman director general of Britain's MI5, Rimington speaks smartly about workplace issues while ratcheting the tension high in her authoritative debut thriller. Enter Liz Carlyle, an agent-runner with a taste for vintage clothes; her married lover, Mark Callendar, whom she doesn't love; and an appealing head of section, Charles Wetherby. You don't need Liz's deductive powers to figure out that Wetherby will eventually succeed Mark, who terminally annoys Liz by leaving his wife. Liz is married to her job. Small wonder: it doesn't get more exciting than this. The Islamic Terror Syndicate (ITS) may be about to deploy an "invisible"—"an ethnic native of the target country"—and only Liz can pull together all the threads. Rimington infuses the chase with moral complexity by making the invisible a real human being, no matter that she boasts a fake name and has "become a cipher, a selfless instrument of vengeance, a Child of Heaven." Most of the characters feel authentic, although Rimington occasionally goes on about strangers briefly glimpsed and introduces several wryly flirtatious male agents too many. She is open about having had an assist with the structure of the book, but the voice rings true, and she keeps faith with a genre she clearly venerates.
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