Dame Stella Rimington served as Director General of Britain’s Security Service, MI5, from 1992 to 1996. Eight years later, in retirement, her first spy novel was published, launching the Liz Carlyle series. Dead Line (2008) is the fourth in the series, now nine strong.
Clearly, Rimington has intimate knowledge of MI5 and its sister agency, MI6. So it’s no surprise that every entry in the Liz Carlyle series rings with authenticity. What is unexpected is Rimington’s proficiency with plotting, characterization, and scene-setting. Like its three predecessors in the series, Dead Line is a pleasure to read.
Dead Line (Liz Carlyle #4) by Stella Rimington @@@@@ (5 out of 5)
In this suspenseful spy thriller, a high-level Middle Eastern peace conference is scheduled to take place in Scotland. The presidents of Israel, Syria, and the United States are all scheduled to attend. The conference is just weeks away when MI6 picks up a credible agent’s report that a plan is afoot to sabotage the conference. Thirty-five-year-old MI5 officer Liz Carlyle is assigned to work with MI6 to determine whether the threat is real and, if so, find out who’s behind it—and thwart it at all costs.
Together with her able young aide, Peggy Kinsolving, and senior MI6 officer Geoffrey Fane, Liz sets out on an investigation that intensifies as the deadline approaches. Other agencies become involved, including the CIA, Special Branch, Revenue and Customs, and Israel’s Mossad. Suspense builds steadily as the story unfolds, and it’s not until the very end that Liz—or the reader—understands what’s really happening. The novel concludes on a high note, but loose ends remain to be wrapped up in future stories.
After four novels in the series, Liz Carlyle is coming into sharp focus. She is professional to a fault, highly intuitive, and capable of facing down even the most formidable sexist male. Liz is also secretly in love with her (married) boss, Charles Wetherby, and fearful that the man her aging mother has paired up with is a gold-digger. And she’s frustrated that her job hasn’t allowed her to date. In other words, exceptional though she is, Liz Carlyle is an entirely credible thirty-something Englishwoman.
For additional reading
My review of the first novel in the Liz Carlyle series, At Risk, is at High stakes in an excellent espionage thriller. You’ll find my review of the second one, Secret Asset, here: An engrossing novel about British counter-espionage. The third, Illegal Action, is at An engaging spy novel from former MI5 director Stella Rimington. I have also reviewed Breaking Cover, the ninth book in the Liz Carlyle series, at Russian agents under cover in the UK.
You’ll find all the books in this series at Dame Stella Rimington’s Liz Carlyle series of top-notch espionage novels.
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