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Secret Asset (Liz Carlyle #2)

3.68  ·  Rating Details  ·  1,049 Ratings  ·  112 Reviews
With her debut novel,At Risk, Stella Rimington established herself as a top-notch thriller writer, and introduced us to Liz Carlye-a smart, impassioned MI5 intelligence officer whose talents and ambitions are counterbalanced by an abiding awareness of her job's moral complexities. In Secret Asset, we are plunged back into her high-stakes, high-tension world.

Liz has always
Hardcover, 336 pages
Published June 19th 2007 by Knopf (first published January 1st 2006)
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Community Reviews

(showing 1-30 of 1,669)
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Nov 22, 2014 Peter rated it liked it
Interesting procedural interludes kept me reading through this MI5 tale which ties together the home-bred terrorism of the Northern Irish conflict with today's challenges from radicalized young Islamists. Rimmington's style can be rather didactic and strait-laced and , for me, she fails to bring alive the characters. But she clearly knows what she is writing about and the underlying theme of conflicted loyalties is nicely woven through the novel. I'm going to try some more Liz Carlyle books as I ...more
Nov 18, 2015 Ярослава rated it it was ok
Shelves: murder-mystery, audio
Стелла Рімінґтон, колишня директорка МІ5, написала серію детективів про агентку МІ5, яка запобігає терактам і вистежує подвійних агентів, і ця серія вичерпно демонструє, що для написання захопливого тексту не конче досконало розуміти, як саме працює те, про що пишеш - значно важливіше розуміти, як працює текст. А з цим біда.
Це має бути гостросюжетний текст: подвійні агенти! начинені вибухівкою вантажівки! убиті інформатори! І я розумію шарм procedurals із описом того, як все працює, але, їй-бо,
James Piper
Jan 14, 2012 James Piper rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book.

The MI5 is the internal force in the UK to fight terrorists and spies. (MI6 works outside the UK). The author worked as its head before retiring. Her inside knowledge results in a more realistic storyline.

There's some action, suspense, some mystery but it's not over-the-top like US writers (Thor / Flynn).
Simon Taylor
Aug 29, 2013 Simon Taylor rated it it was ok
The former Director General of MI5 has written a spy thriller. It should have been the equivalent of Jamie Oliver cooking you dinner or David Beckham teaching your kids how to play football. In fact, it was a bit like Bruce Forsythe telling you how to stay young. I don’t think I truly understood what an airport thriller was like until I read this.

The problem with Secret Asset isn’t just that it wasn’t good enough to be good, it also wasn’t bad enough to be bad. At least bad books have the decenc
Apr 22, 2014 Forthbridge rated it really liked it
Dame Stella has the gift of plot and pace. The set-ups are done competently and she has the gift, possibly unappreciated, of encouraging the reader to turn the page.
I suspect that Stella - who became the first female head of Britain's counter-espionage outfit MI5, is a very methodical and tough cookie indeed and possibly not one for lively banter and small talk. Her heroine seems rather a cold fish at time and certainly there are few interludes where the more human sides of the protagonists come
Bill Wilson
Jun 13, 2014 Bill Wilson rated it really liked it
My first book by this author, and it's a compliment to her that I was delighted to learn there are at least six more in this series. Very good read, with two seemingly unrelated plot threads that come together skillfully in an unexpected way. You have to like your suspense in a more cerebral sense, as there's little of the slam bang, shoot-em-up, blow-em-up of some others in this genre. Also quite interesting how she gets to the bottom of the villain's motives, finding that personal vendettas ar ...more
Jun 01, 2016 Paula rated it really liked it
I enjoyed this book written by someone who had inside knowledge of MI5.
Michael Martz
Jun 27, 2016 Michael Martz rated it really liked it
Secret Asset, the 2nd in Stella Rimington's series starring Liz Carlyle, is a fast-paced cat & mouse thriller that doesn't let up. Carlyle, a MI5 operator in London, returns to work after an injury and is thrust into the search for a supposedly inactive Northern Irish mole in the British intelligence service. Concurrently, a Pakistani terrorist cell is planning something big in London and, due to her previous relationship with an informer, she's drawn into that investigation as well.

To avoid
Oct 13, 2015 Anne rated it it was ok
Shelves: thriller
I was disappointed: I had high expectations as I had enjoyed Rimington's first novel, but this one wasn't as good.

I failed to be concerned about the security risk - too general and (sadly) cliched in today's world - , and although it soon became clear how the mole plot line would tie in with the 1st plot, its initial link to Northern Ireland seemed too dated, too irrelevant (thankfully...) to develop any sense of urgency or serious worry.
The book is deftly constructed, but the writing is clunky,
Mar 20, 2013 Hannah rated it liked it
Shelves: library, 2013
This is another perfectly acceptable spy-thriller from Rimington. I continue to wish that Peggy was the main character, and I guessed the twist about halfway through. That doesn't mean I didn't enjoy the book - I adore books about competent people being competent, and it did give me a few thinky thoughts about England and Ireland and the entanglement of the two countries through the years. Basically this book does what it sets out to do, very competently. Just like its characters.
May 25, 2016 Pgchuis rated it it was amazing
The second in the Liz Carlyle series and better than the first. Liz is tasked with looking for a sleeper IRA mole within MI5 and, at the same time, her asset at the Islamic bookstore reports the arrival of an extremist imam. Liz knows that the mole went to Oxford at a particular time and so this narrows the suspects to five. She and an agent seconded from MI6 dig into their pasts, applications and referees. The identity of the mole is gradually revealed in a way which encourages the reader to pu ...more
Jan 16, 2015 Zackrid rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2015, thriller, political
Stella Rimington is an ex-Director General of the MI5 who's turned to writing novels, which makes John Le Carré an obvious point of comparison. And if this story of a bomb plot and a double agent in MI5 has the potential to be a post-9/11 John Le Carré, it would seem an important read for that reason alone.

Now, Rimington is an intelligence expert first and novelist second and that seems to show in other GR reviews. Things like 'predictable', 'perfectly acceptable' and 'airplane novel' are tossed
Jeremy Lee
Feb 09, 2015 Jeremy Lee rated it really liked it
Shelves: espionage
I have only just discovered the Liz Carlyle series from Stella Rimington and after reading this, the second in the series, I have to say I am already a fan! Espionage has never really been my thing, but these books are written in a (fairly) uncomplicated, accessible style and I have found them to keep my interest going throughout the whole book. To the uninitiated, Liz Carlyle is what is known as an Agent Runner at MI5 and, in this particular story, she is on the trail of a gang of potential ter ...more
Oct 04, 2015 Karen rated it really liked it
This was a well-written novel, with an interesting though sometimes unconvincing plot. Like in At Risk, the author writes with a lack of emotion and distance from her characters, which seems to reflect the temperament of her protagonist, but gives the writing a clinical feeling. In general, I think Rimington addresses issues of race, ethnicity, and racism sensitively, but I did get tired of all of the characters of color being repeatedly described by their race, with the underlying assumption th ...more
What is a 'secret asset' in the language of the security services? We soon find out, but who is the secret asset in this story will remain hidden until well into the book. This is the second Liz Carlyle story. In the early pages it seems that the novel will centre around the Islamic bookshop in which an agent by the name of 'Marzipan' works.

However Liz is side-lined into another project by her boss Charles Wetherby. This takes her back in time to the troubles in Northern Ireland. This certainly
Jul 02, 2013 MacarthursMutterings rated it really liked it
Oh my Stella writes a good book, not ready any before but will get the other two she has written, if you like a crime/thriller I highly recommend this
Martin Baggs
Sep 29, 2014 Martin Baggs rated it really liked it
Finished the second book by Stella RImington. Once again, she features Liz Carlyle (book 2) as the MI5 protagonist. In this story, which picks up some of the pieces from the first, Carlyle is told to find the mole in MI5 who may be helping either the IRA or Al Quada. Either way, it seems that a piece of terrorism is about to hit Britain unless Liz can solve the puzzle.

Another intriguing story. Some have complained that it is too slow. It isn’t. It reminds me a little of Le Carre. But the complai
Candy Wood
Jun 09, 2015 Candy Wood added it
Shelves: mysteries
This second title in the Liz Carlyle series could be enjoyed without reading the first one, though it does build knowledge of Liz and her relationships. Threats come from both old and recent conflicts, IRA intrigue and Islamist terrorists. Settings in Belfast and Oxford as well as London add interest. As in the first one, the perspective shifts often, including both minor and major characters, some intending to kill and occasionally some about to be victims. The shifts help emphasize the complex ...more
Feb 08, 2016 Oakfield rated it it was ok
It's a good book. It starts really solid with the setup of mole planted by the IRA, and the follow up of the previous characters such as the protagonist and the informant. For the major part of the book, you'll be devouring pages by following the investigation, but just as you get close to the climax of what should be an interesting confrontation it ends in a rather random yet conveniently way.

Just as the previous book the support characters that seem to be important appear and disappear in the
I've not been a fan of the espionage genre before, so I can't compare it with other such books; but as an avid reader of all sorts of well written books, I enjoyed "Secret Asset" a lot. It followed on nicely from the first Liz Carlyle book "At Risk", thoguh I'm sure it'd be fine as a first read, though it's undoubtedly richer with the knowledge of the prceding book to build on.

There was tension moreso than excitement and the characters were better formed than in the first book. There was a bit
Oct 18, 2013 Ingo rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Started October 14th, 2013.
Great book, 2nd in the series. Very brilliant British English.
Could have been a bit more complicated or more twists. But ok, the persons are well described, not too much private life which does not contribute to the main story, just enough so you get to know the characters, subtly played as they sometime get to know each other.
The main characters are great and even the dark bad ones are complicated enough to be not only black, but more like a subtle grey which gets dar
Elisha Condie
Aug 11, 2011 Elisha Condie rated it it was ok
Stella Rimington sounds like the coolest alias for the coolest woman in the world. She's the real life M - the former head of British Intelligence, and the first woman to hold the position. And Stella Rimington is her real name! It's all too good to be true.

I approached this novel with glee, just knowing that it would be awesome. Maybe I expected too much, but it wasn't very good. It started out well, with Liz Carlyle (MI5 employee) looking into an Arab terrorist plot that has ties with forme
Sep 27, 2013 Joan rated it really liked it
Although I don't experience the "can't put this down even though it's 3 a.m., and I'm exhausted" feeling that the best espionage fiction gives me, I really do like this Liz Carlyle series. Rimington does something that other post-Cold-War espionage novelists don't seem to be able to do, namely connect the characters' motivations to larger social, political, and historical themes in a believable and empathetic way. Here, she connects to the standard themes -- Northern Ireland and "home-grown" Isl ...more
Jennifer (JC-S)
Aug 29, 2008 Jennifer (JC-S) rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: librarybooks
I've really enjoyed the Liz Carlyle novels: two of them have have been part of my escapist fiction recently.

This is the second of the novels written by Ms Rimington to feature MI5 Intelligence Officer Liz Carlyle. I’ve read them out of order and while this hasn’t materially impacted upon my enjoyment of the novels, I would recommend new readers to start at the beginning.

In this novel, Liz is investigating a tip-off that a mole has been planted in one of the branches of British Intelligence. Thi
Valerie Andrews
Sep 25, 2015 Valerie Andrews rated it really liked it
Stella Rimington is turning out to be a favorite author. Her insider knowledge of the British "secret" services makes her plots realistic and her people even more so. I really like Liz Carlyle, whose dedication to her employer – MI5 – doesn't prevent her desire for a personal life. While she deals with family issues, she's also laser-focused on bringing down a mole in the company, an IRA plant whose intentions and actions on behalf of that organization seem very unclear.
Paul Servini
Apr 07, 2015 Paul Servini rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I first read Stella Rimington many years ago, just after her first book came out. Not only did I really enjoy reading it but some of the themes she took on were courageous - given as she was the head of MI5 - and they resonated with me. She has many more to her name now, but I've only just read this second book. It was exciting and hard to put down but a number of themes here were already evident in the first book. I hope she begins to diversify, otherwise her books might get boring quickly.
Sep 22, 2015 James rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: crimes-and-spies
I have to say that, of all the Rimington books I've read, this is my least favourite. I didn't find the ending satisfactory - it felt a little anti climactic, and the last act felt a little predictable and lacked her usual flair for surprising me. But, it was still enjoyable, and I definitely will continue working my way through the other Liz Carlyle books.
Bernadette O'brien
Mar 17, 2015 Bernadette O'brien rated it it was amazing
I just love these books. They are engaging without asking too much of the reader. The pace is PERFECT. I save these books until I know I have a long plane trip coming up. Even a flight from Melbourne to San Fran can be a pleasurabel prospect if you have an unread Liz C. book in your hadn luggage :-)
Oct 05, 2015 Omar rated it it was ok
A nicely woven plot with two threads converging nicely. However i did not like the ending as it was very dull. There are many ways to terminate a key character in the plot, falling from a building top is the last coming in mind. I might give Stella another go and my next one is probably "At Risk".
Mar 30, 2015 Harriet rated it really liked it
Thoroughly enjoyable!! Liz is a wonderful character, intelligent and amazingly intuitive. The plot moved quickly and the characters were very well drawn.
Great suspenseful read by a woman who has been there and lived it.
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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)
  • At Risk (Liz Carlyle, #1)
  • 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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