Russian agents under cover in the UK

Russian agents in Breaking Cover by Stella Rimington

A prominent civil liberties advocate named Jasminder Kapoor is saved from muggers on a London street late at night by a passerby. Within weeks, she has fallen in love with the man, a Norwegian banker. There is something a little strange about him, but she can’t put her finger on it.

Russian agents enter the scene

Meanwhile, a Russian officer stationed in Ukraine witnesses the mangled bodies strewn about by the crash of a Malaysian airliner downed by a Russian missile. Disgusted by the experience, he approaches the CIA and volunteers to pass along information. A high-ranking CIA officer flies to Ukraine to interview him. The soldier has insisted on speaking with a “British expert,” and Miles Brookhaven fits the bill. In a short, tense meeting, Miles learns that the FSB has begun placing undercover Russian agents — “illegals” — in the West. One is in England.

Breaking Cover (Liz Carlyle #9) by Stella Rimington @@@@ (4 out of 5)

The CIA immediately informs MI5, where Liz Carlyle heads counterespionage. With no additional information to go on, Liz is stymied. Then Miles meets again with the Russian officer and learns there are two illegals in the UK, one a man, the other a woman, and that they work together. Both, he’s told, are getting close to successful penetration of MI5 and MI6. Liz’s search for the undercover agents begins, with the assistance of her resourceful aide, Peggy Kinsolving.

As Jasminder is recruited into a senior post at MI6, in the agency’s new policy of openness, the tension mounts. No reader will be shocked to learn that her lover is one of the Russian illegals. But there are many other surprises in store as Liz and Peggy’s investigation — and the suspense — unfold over the weeks. Though the story is a little slow on the uptake, it steadily gains in momentum and rushes to an exciting climax.

About the author

It’s hardly unusual for a former intelligence agent to capitalize on a secret life by writing novels. After all, examples are abundant, from Ian Fleming to Howard Hunt. But it’s rare for the former director of a major intelligence agency to break cover in fiction. Dame Stella Rimington was the Director General of the UK’s Security Service, or MI5, from 1992 to 1996. In fact, she was both the first woman to hold the job, the first to be publicly identified, and the first to appear on-camera. Since leaving the agency she has built a new career as an espionage novelist. Breaking Cover is the ninth book in her series about MI5 agent Liz Carlyle.

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.

All the books in this series are listed on my post, Dame Stella Rimington’s Liz Carlyle series of top-notch espionage novels.

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