On the one hand, Rimington celebrates the analytical genius of her alter ego and, on the other, she seems to be saying it's mostly dumb luck when terrorists are caught. It's a mixed message but probably an accurate one. What is not mixed is her portrayal of intelligence agents whose personal egos and institutional rivalries are such that we are left wondering if they -- or their American counterparts, whose egos and rivalries are surely no less monumental -- could protect anyone from anything.
The Washington Post
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. 150,000 first printing; five-city author tour. (Jan.) Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Rimington, former director general of Britain's security service MI5, introduces us to Liz Carlyle, a young, hip, and incredibly intuitive counterterrorism intelligence officer. Working out of London, Liz receives troubling information that leads her to the coast to investigate a fisherman's homicide. Initially, the case seems connected to a local smuggling ring, but the military assault-style murder weapon arouses Liz's suspicions. Her fear grows as information trickles in: nearby are two members of the Islamic Terror Syndicate (a Pakistani fighter and an unidentified British female), leaving dead bodies, abandoned vehicles, and homemade bomb fixings in their wake. But where are they now, and what is their ultimate target? Despite a few dropped story lines, the author pulls off an exciting thriller with nods to Ken Follett's style and Evelyn Anthony's heroines. Women authors and protagonists are rare in the British intelligence genre, and this debut has series potential. Recommended for popular fiction collections. [See Prepub Alert, LJ 9/1/04.]-Teresa L. Jacobsen, Santa Monica P.L., CA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Does the post-9/11 world have room for espionage fiction? First-novelist Rimington, the former Director General of Britain's MI5, certainly thinks so. An Afghani terrorist who's taken considerable pains to slip into England illegally but under his own name is en route to a rendezvous with a discontented young Englishwoman, a fearsome "invisible" agent, when something goes wrong. The Norfolk fisherman bringing in Faraj Mansoor together with a boatload of other illegal immigrants sets his eye on Faraj's backpack, and Faraj has to kill him to keep from losing it. Rimington reserves the slow-moving first quarter of her story for the events leading up to this murder. Luckily, her fictional counterpart, Liz Carlyle, who runs counterterrorism agents for MI5, is quick to link the telltale bullet, a 7.62 mm armor-piercing round, to an early warning she's already received about Faraj's identification papers, and the hunt is finally on for Faraj and his home-grown terrorist contact, who's working under the name Lucy Wharmby. "I'm not quite working with the police," Liz tells a reluctant witness. "I'm working alongside them." Every branch of Her Majesty's government agrees that Faraj and Lucy have to be captured before they act. But the stalwarts of MI5, their flirtatious counterparts in MI6, the elite Special Forces, and the time-servers in the local constabulary have very different ideas of what the two terrorists might be up to, where their target might be, and what to do about it. Their day-of-the-jackal search for Faraj and Lucy, played out against the violent and resourceful countermeasures of their targets, doesn't exactly break new ground in the genre. Yet once she sets up her irresistiblesituation, Rimington controls the game of hunters and hunted like-well, like a master of real-life spycraft. New wine, expertly crafted, in old bottles. First printing of 150,000; Book-of-the-Month Club/Mystery Guild selection
"As engrossing and hard to resist as Fredrick Forsyth's The Day of the Jackal." —Orlando Sentinel
“ExcitingÉ[Rimington] bids to join the ranks of such secret agent-authors as Graham Greene [and] John le Carr?. At Risk is an exciting debut novel.”—The Wall Street Journal
"Entertaining. . . . Briskly told. . . . [Will] keep you turning the pages." —The Washington Post Book World