Thursday 20 August 2020

Close Call

Finished August 12
Close Call by Stella Rimington

This novel is the eighth book in a series featuring MI5 agent Liz Carlyle. I've also read the first one, At Risk. Here she works with MI6, the CIA, and the French intelligence authorities. Liz is in a relationship that is starting to get serious with Martin Seurat, one of her French counterparts at the DGSE. He has started talking about retiring and going into private security.
The story here starts in the Syria, where an American agent has a close call while infiltrating rebel groups. He is transferred to Yemen to try and move a rumour forward to discover whether it has merit in intelligence with a government minister.
Liz is just back from vacation with Martin when she is brought up to date by her deputy Peggy Kinsolving. This includes a "watching brief" on a possible smuggled arms shipment. This involves MI6 as well as the CIA. The first thing to come up on this brief is news of a meeting in Paris. The French are running the show there of course, with other countries involved, but a young agent makes a move that unnerves those meeting and they lose contact with the men. Photos of them however bring an unexpected surprise. One of the men is a former French agent, who got in trouble and has now moved to the side of the bad guys, including running arms. They are surprised he risked his home ground of Europe, but it does make it more likely that they can nab him and try to learn more.
Liz soon finds that the drop of arms is expected to be in England, in Cheshire. When she reaches out to Special Branch to find out more about the man they suspect of being involved she learns that a man from her past is also now in Cheshire. They didn't part on good terms, and Liz isn't sure that he can be trusted based on her past experience, so she explores different routes of gathering intelligence and mounting surveillance. The man in Cheshire has been suspected of human trafficking as part of a club and prostitution service he runs, but arms would be a new venture for him.
I enjoyed the action here and also like when I learn more about the personal lives of the main characters, to humanize them more. There are several things going on here, but they all relate to each other, and offer a fast-moving plot.
The author used to head up MI5 and so writes from experience and knowledge of the real world espionage services.

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