Knopf, Jul 2008, $23.95
MI5 officer Liz Carlyle is unhappy with the management directed reassignment from the counterterrorism department to the backwater counterespionage dept., but vows to excel in her new office. Her first major project involves surveillance of an affluent Russian expatriate residing in London. Apparently a drunken Stakhov mentioned a nebulous plot that worries the M16 leadership as the war on terrorism supersedes the counter espionage so much so that a caught spy is not expelled from the country out of fear of harming the partnership with the Russians. The assignment is to monitor Stakhov and the other oligarchs in order to learn what their plot is.
Liz concludes that someone has targeted the wealthy oligarch for assassination. She follows up on clues and begins to believe the hit was called by someone powerful in Russia; perhaps a person connected to the Putin government. However, unbeknownst to Liz is that some is watching her sleuthing and is considering her as a potential threat worth eliminating.
This modern day espionage thriller is excellent from the onset as a disappointed Liz realizes in spite of the pay being the same she was demoted when the brass transferred her from the top gun department to yesterday’s new department. The story line is fast-paced as Liz begins to unravel the complex truth, which makes her a strong secondary target. Spy thriller fans will fully relish Stella Rimington’s terrific tale as ILLEGAL ACTION may mean nothing in the current counterespionage world.