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Rimington, Stella - 'Dead Line'
Hardback: 384 pages (Oct. 2008) Publisher: Quercus Publishing Plc ISBN: 184724310X

DEAD LINE is the fourth book in the Liz Carlyle series written by Stella Rimington, the former Director General of the Security Service MI5.

Peter Templeton, MI6's head of station on Cyprus, learns from his Syrian contact that the upcoming Middle East peace conference at Gleneagles is to be disrupted and given the names of two people involved, business man Sami Veshara and journalist Chris Marcham. The Syrians do not want the conference disrupted and explain they will take action against these men.

Liz Carlyle, an attractive 35-year-old single MI5 agent, is given the job of investigating the two men but complications arise as the American CIA and Israeli Mossad become involved. Is CIA agent Miles Brookhaven, a young Ivy League graduate, interested in her personally or just keeping a professional watch on her? Why is a handsome Israeli embassy official escorting Hannah Gold, a member of the peace movement, to concerts and dinner? Is it because of her $20 million dollar divorce settlement, or that her daughter-in- law Sophie had been in the Security Service, or is there another motive?

When someone attempts to kill Liz by running her down in the street, and two agents from different countries are unexpectedly seen together at the Oval cricket ground the investigators become confused. These complications are made more difficult for Liz as she struggles with her feelings for her boss Charles Wetherby, whose wife Joanne is dying, and the professional and personal jealousies of her colleagues in the Security Services of both the UK and the USA.

Stella Rimington's DEAD LINE was a very easy light enjoyable read but with all the authenticity one would expect from a former MI5 Director General, as well as more characterisation and 'red herrings' than one normally gets in a spy novel. Some of the characters may seem a bit like stereotypes but I get the impression they are drawn from Stella Rimington's own experience of over thirty years in the intelligence service.

The relationships are fairly predictable such as the CIA boss Andy Bokus, from a state university and immigrant stock, having a difficult time with his Ivy League subordinate Miles Brookhaven, and the pompous, divorced Geoffrey Fane fancying Liz, but there are a few surprises along the way. Even when one learns, or works out, what is going on there is still a lot of tension to see if the conference will be disrupted.

This is an unpretentious but authentic novel, and within the parameters of a spy thriller it is very successful. The bonus is the reader will learn something about the tangled world of the intelligence services and a little about Middle Eastern history and politics.

Norman Price, England
November 2008

Norman blogs at
Crime Scraps.

Details of the author's other books with links to reviews can be found on the Books page.
More European crime fiction reviews can be found on the Reviews page.

last updated 19/03/2010 10:16