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At Risk (Liz Carlyle #1)

3.66  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,578 Ratings  ·  208 Reviews
A tense, fast-moving debut thriller from the ex-head of MI5.

“Our concern – and we’ve communicated this over the weekend to all stations, is that the opposition may be about to deploy an invisible.”

An “invisible” is CIA-speak for the ultimate intelligence nightmare: the terrorist who, because he or she is an ethnic native of the target country, can cross its borders uncheck
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Published January 11th 2005 by Random House Audio (first published January 1st 2004)
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Jun 16, 2009 Sara rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
If you enjoy spy intrigue stories you will love this book. The plot is captivating and of course extremely realistic considering the author's previous career with MI5. My only complaint was that I needed a "British-English / American-English" dictionary to help me with a lot of the lingo. Also, there are some assumptions made by the author with regards to British culture that not all her non-British readers will be familiar with.
Jan 23, 2015 Andrew rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Those who like spy thrillers with pace
This is Stella Rimington's first book, in which she introduces the character of Liz Carlyle who is employed by M15 as an agent-runner.

This book seems quite topical at the time I write this. It is based around what is called 'an invisible' by the security services.

Much of the story takes place in the rural parts of East Anglia. I like the way the novel is crafted. It is written from two view-points: Firstly through the eyes if Liz and her MI5 and M16 colleagues. Secondly through the eyes of ?? An
Apr 13, 2014 Forthbridge rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was waiting to hear Dame Stella give a talk and I asked the lady next to me if this book was any good. The lady in question was the author.
I am glad I made the purchase as the material is very deftly handled. The structure reminded me of the Day of the Jackal with the bad guys winning the first few rounds. The main protagonists start off in Afghanistan and London and then gradually move closer until an explosive denouement.
Interesting to work out the bees in the Dame's bonnet. Men often get to
Jun 09, 2016 Sarah rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: gone
I picked this up because of her job as head of MI5. I think it is her first book and half way through I wanted to grip her and send her on a good creative writing course. Maybe that is what happened as the first half of the book is all about setting the scene and involved a lot of tedious detail about clothes and food and possibly even furniture - and is far too long. Then the story picks up with some real tension and pace and a lot of cleverness. I have friends in this part of Norfolk and so I ...more
Jeremy Lee
Feb 02, 2015 Jeremy Lee rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: espionage
I have to say I was pleasantly surprised by this! I am not a huge fan of espionage books (I have read some over the years) but I must say I really enjoyed this one, the first in the Liz Carlyle series - I gather there are eight altogether now and I shall be starting the next one right away! Liz Carlyle is an agent-runner in MI5's Joint Counter-Terrorist Group, which is facing the ultimate intelligence nightmare; an "invisible," a terrorist who's an ethnic native of the target country and thus ab ...more
This book was fantastic! The ending a bit unexpected and the plots within plots that unfolded were exceedingly tangled and interesting. Learning the names and functions of the various British government agencies and roles takes some attention to detail for the uninitiated but is well worth the effort.

The author is a former Director General in the British Security Service (MI5) who writes novels relating to that setting with particular attention to counter-subversion, counter-espionage and count
An Odd1
Feb 12, 2015 An Odd1 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery, fan
"In any campaign, the first stronghold that you have to occupy is your enemy's consciousness" - Feliks Dzerzhinsky KGB founder p 424.

"They make a wilderness, and call it peace" - Tacitus, Roman Empire p 554.

Quotations show the breadth of heroine Liz (and author Stella's) education.

I may continue series, but I more admire than like: heroine Liz, her deceptive frightening world, traitors - novice Jean or jaded Mansoor. The Western good guys stumble always a footstep behind the Islamic terrorists,
Aug 21, 2009 Susan rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I’ve been on a spy kick lately, rereading books by old favorites John Le Carré and Charles McCarry and watching the British TV series, Sandbaggers, which, it turns out, has a sort of cult following among intelligence buffs—supposed to be pretty authentic. Most of those books I’ve been rereading as well as Sandbaggers focus on Cold War espionage. This novel focuses on contemporary terrorism and its author, Stella Rimington, is a past director of Britain’s MI5.

It’s like a police procedural, where
Mark Young
Mar 26, 2011 Mark Young rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Stella Rimington really grabs the reader from the very beginning. Characters and plot are intertwined like strands of string in a cord, each heading toward a final event that has anti-terrorist agents worried. Along the way, we grown closer to intelligence officer Liz Caryle, who has spent a lifetime trying to prove herself in a very dangerous, male-oriented environment.

Liz and her counter-terrorist teammates must learn whether the opposition has finally been able to land an foreign agent on UK
Oct 14, 2013 Ingo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started October 11th, 2013.
Bought a cheap Daily Kindle-Deal, and that was the 7th in this series: The Geneva Trap . After some research I bought this (the first) to start with the series.
As of this date this is not available as a Kindle-eBook (in Germany, but I also looked elsewhere), I had to buy the EPUB and convert it with Calibre to Mobi, so I can read it on my Kindle Paperwhite (first edition).
While the idea to read a book by a former spook (UK Mi5-Member) sounds interesting, the last one
Lauren Koffs
Jul 21, 2011 Lauren Koffs rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I took up this book because it was written by a woman who became the first female director of MI5. That's a pretty remarkable thing, even today. And unlike similar books I have read, the author creates in this novel a world that is decidedly real. One of the most thrilling aspects of this story is that it very well could happen at any time. It also honestly explores the darker side to government operations. The missions and accidents that people are not so proud of, that they don't want the pres ...more
Wendy Henning
Ever so slightly implausible plot kept it from earning 4 stars. Solidly written and decently paced.
T. K. Elliott
Jun 21, 2016 T. K. Elliott rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: reviewed, thrillers
I've had my eye on Rimington's Liz Carlyle books for a while - how often do you get to read a spy novel written by a spy?

You can tell that the author knows the real business of intelligence work: her characters are doing a job. They have real-people worries, and real-people christmas parties (with 50 rubber David Shayler masks). Intelligence work is also the result of a team effort - every person bringing their own little piece of the jigsaw.

The story follows Liz Carlyle, as she tries to locate
May 21, 2016 Pgchuis rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liz Carlyle works for MI5 and receives information that an "invisible", i.e. some one travelling on a British passport, has entered the country intending to carry out a terrorist plot. Liz teams up with representative from MI6, the police and, by the end, most other agencies/arms of government to try to identify the terrorists and their target.

This is the first in a series and I can see the there are threads left for further development, including Liz's love life and (I imagine) the asset codena
Michael Martz
Mar 08, 2015 Michael Martz rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I really enjoyed At Risk, Stella Rimington's first novel in the Liz Carlyle series. Unfortunately, I'd begun reading Rimington with the 8th book in the series, didn't think it was very good but took a chance at checking out an earlier entry. I'm glad I did.

At Risk is a very good spy thriller with a plot that, sadly, seems all too real. I won't go into details, but suffice to say that it's a great story that could be taken from current headlines. Rimington has tons of credibility, writes well, an
I really wanted to love this one as the author has such great credentials for writing espionage - after over 30 years in MI5, she became the first female director in 1992,so her real world experience should have added much to the story. But the middle 100 pages dragged so much I just skipped it and read to the end. This one was published in 2005 so it isn't dated, it is just very cerebral. The plot sometimes gets bogged down in Liz having to show the men how smart she is and how she came up with ...more
Aug 02, 2008 Julie rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The adventures of Liz Carlyle, female MI5 officer, as conceived by former Director General of MI5, Stella Rimington? A no-brainer- this is utter, lose yourself in the adventure fun. Step aside, Jason Bourne, the lady has arrived!
Carly Thompson
Spy Thriller. The first book in the Liz Carlyle series. Liz Carlyle is a competent MI-5 agent who is tasked with tracking down an enemy agent who has entered Britain with the help of an "invisible" - an ethnic native of England. In short chapters, Rimington shows Carlyle and her team getting closer to the terrorists as well as the viewpoint of the terrorists themselves. While the plot is well worn, Rimington moves things along briskly and creates an appealing heroine. Similar to the literary thr ...more
Sep 23, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
As others have noted, this is a very well-written, (unfortunately) timely novel, with themes that resonate today -- and which even eerily predicts some of the events associated with the Boston Marathon bombing. I really liked the character of Liz, and loved her competence and confidence in this male-dominated field. I was a little ambivalent about the writing style, which had a dry and almost clinical feel to it at times, and I wanted to better understand Liz's personal history and motivations. ...more
Candy Wood
Stella Rimington's acknowledgment note asserts that "The art of novelist and that of intelligence officer are very different," but At Risk shows that the two can blend very effectively. Published ten years ago, it's still current, involving headline concerns such as economic migrants, terrorist bombs, young Europeans recruited by Islamist organizations, and the role of the U.S. and the UK in Afghanistan and Pakistan. While the partly autobiographical Liz Carlyle is the main focalizing character, ...more
Michael Domnin
Oct 11, 2014 Michael Domnin rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: read it
Recommended to Michael by: my own reading of GCHQ by Aldridge
I find the style engaging. I like the scenery description. It centres on one efent lead to its conclusion. I didn't like the killing scens, because I don't like killings! (Trust me to read a thriller!) The scenes are well researched and lead on to the next chapter. I think it's a good insight into terrorism and how people might become convinced to turn to extreme ideas. I didn't like the heroes because they were described as terrible with terrible thoughts. So I was glad to see the conclusion. A ...more
Valerie Andrews
Jul 30, 2015 Valerie Andrews rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
MI5 agent Liz Carlyle is smart, savvy and still treated like a second-class citizen by some of the men she encounters as she deals with a potential terrorist threat on British soil. Working to identify an unknown enemy with an unknown agenda and target, she fends off amorous advances from a married man, overcomes obstacles put up by other agencies and tries to get inside the mind of a young woman who may be the key to the whole operation.

Can't wait to read more from this insider author, writing
May 04, 2015 Laura rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
At Risk is about Liz, an MI5 Agent Runner who becomes involved in the investigation of a shooting in country England and feels it has a connection to the “invisible” MI6 thinks has crossed into the UK. However will Liz be able to connect all the dots in time to prevent a terrorist attack?

The story started off quite slowly and took awhile to really get going. It didn’t start to get super interesting until probably half way through. I think the slow build up of character development and background
Sep 03, 2008 Ed rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first of a so-far successful series featuring MI5 operative Liz Carlyle written by the agency's former general director.

One way to look at the protagonist--she is the opposite of Ian Fleming's Agent 007, James Bond. The most basic way, of course, is that Bond is male, Liz female. Bond is licensed to kill--although that license wouldn't work since it would only allow killing in the realm of the Queen, the area where Bond's agency is forbidden from operating. Bond is a spy, working in
Shonna Froebel
Nov 16, 2012 Shonna Froebel rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This one had been on my list for a while, and I finally got around to it. Rimington used to head up Britain's MI5, so I was interested to see her take on the spy novel. Her main character is a woman, Liz Carlyle, who is an intelligence officer with MI5. Liz has been doing fairly well at her job, although it has necessitated making some sacrifices in her personal life. She knows that she is good at her job and she feels that this is where she should be, so making those sacrifices is part of the p ...more
Feb 26, 2011 Sharon rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liz Carlyle works for MI5, the agency of which Stella Rimington was the first female director general. Her experience is used well in this, her first novel.

An announcement is made at a meeting that Islamic terrorists may be about to deploy an 'invisible', an agent native to Britain and able to move and act without attracting suspicion. This is worrying, but Liz has agents to supervise and a new MI6 counterpart to deal with. Very quickly, however, Liz receives information that puts her in the cen
Mar 09, 2007 katie rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: done-reading
God, this is so bland. I kept trying to come up with analogies for it while I was reading it - which says it all, really, considering it's meant to be this FAST-PACED, SUPER EXCITING THRILLER - but it's so nothingy. I bought it because the MC spends the first five minutes angsting about never having quite managed to figure out the dress code thing for life at MI5, because that sounded very me, but it doesn't get past that. I mean, you'd imagine that's meant to be the Endearing Feature about her, ...more
Mar 03, 2013 Danny rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I admit it. The primary reason why I purchased this book was because it is written by Stella Rimington, former Director General of MI5. I thought that it would be realistic, and interesting - well, I wasn't wrong! Admittedly, it is a little slow to start off with, but that's probably because I'm used to reading spy novels/thrillers that depend on big guns and explosions for excitement. This story does have those elements, but Rimington focuses more attention on the chase and the thought processe ...more
I've discovered that espionage novels written by British authors rarely disappoint. They have an instinctive feel for the genre and usually craft intelligent story lines with strong characters. Stella Rimington of course has plenty of experience to draw on so it comes as little surprise that this is an entertaining read in the British tradition with plenty of intrigue. Look forward to the next entry in this series.
Kate Donnelly
Dec 11, 2015 Kate Donnelly rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Liz is the only woman of clout in MI5. Word of an invisible alerts London and the intelligence community takes hold to determine where he/she is headed and who it is. MI6 becomes involved. Liz wonders what the connection is. What a time to read about a radicalized English girl and a Muslim victim of an air strike. This book was written in 2005. We have not come very far dealing with this situation.
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Dame Stella Whitehouse Rimington joined the Security Service (MI5) in 1968. During her career she worked in all the main fields of the Service: counter-subversion, counter-espionage and counter-terrorism. She was appointed Director General in 1992, the first woman to hold the post. She has written her autobiography and nine Liz Carlyle novels. She lives in London and Norfolk.

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Other Books in the Series

Liz Carlyle (9 books)
  • Secret Asset (Liz Carlyle, #2)
  • Illegal Action (Liz Carlyle, #3)
  • Dead Line (Liz Carlyle, #4)
  • Present Danger (Liz Carlyle, #5)
  • Rip Tide (Liz Carlyle, #6)
  • The Geneva Trap (Liz Carlyle, #7)
  • Close Call (Liz Carlyle, #8)
  • Breaking Cover (Liz Carlyle #9)

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