An announcement is made at a meeting of the British Intelligence Joint Counter-Terrorist group: "The opposition may be about to deploy an invisible." An "invisible" is CIA-speak for the ultimate intelligence nightmare: a terrorist who is an ethnic native of the target country and who can therefore cross its borders unchecked, move around the country unquestioned, and go unnoticed while setting up the foundation for monstrous harm.Intelligence officer Liz Carlyle has had to prove herself in countless ways as she's come up through the ranks of the traditionally all-male world of Britain's Security Service, MI5. But this announcement marks the start of an operation that will test all her hard-won knowledge and experience-and her intelligence and courage-as nothing has before. Having analyzed information from her agents, she realizes that there is indeed an imminent terrorist threat. She may even have the invisible's point of entry. But what she cannot draw out of all the "chatter" is the invisible's identity and intended target.
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. -- PUBLISHERS WEEKLY.
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January 10, 2005
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