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Secret Asset (Liz Carlyle #2)

3.75  ·  Rating details ·  1,466 Ratings  ·  128 Reviews
Liz Carlyle, the quick, passionate intelligence officer of Britain's MI5, returns to defuse a terrorist plot in this high-stakes, high-tension tale of international espionage.

When it appears a “secret asset”—a sleeper spy—has infiltrated British Intelligence, the Director of Counter-Terrorism assigns Liz Carlyle to dig up the mole. The spy, possibly a former IRA operative
Paperback, 368 pages
Published May 6th 2008 by Vintage Crime/Black Lizard (first published August 3rd 2006)
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Nov 10, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
James Piper
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
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
Mal Warwick
Jan 16, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Sohail Din, a young Pakistani-British man, has postponed entry into law school for a year to serve as an undercover source for MI5. His agent runner, Liz Carlyle, returns from leave to find that Din has reported a visit by a notorious radical Pakistani imam to the Islamist bookstore where he works. There, the sheikh met with three young British men of Pakistani origin who are suspected of radical sympathies.

Suddenly, the inter-agency Counter-Terrorist Committee finds itself with a high-priority
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,
Apr 22, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 22, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Jun 01, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this book written by someone who had inside knowledge of MI5.
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
Mick Scrimshaw
Aug 13, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is the first book by Stella Riminghton I’ve read. In a way I think I’ve always been put off by knowing that she was once the head of MI5 because while this should obviously add authenticity to her spy stories, part of me wondered if it was just some kind of clever marketing ploy and her stories were perhaps just as fantastic as any other writers but sold more because simply her publishers were cashing in on her past job. I guess we’ll never know for sure, but having read Secret Asset I must ...more
Lauren Ticus
Aug 27, 2017 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fiction
As Stella Rimington is the former (real) head of MI5 I had expected great things from this book.

It began well with lot of presumably realistic insights into the way that the work of the secret services is actually done. Sadly it missed the mark for me in terms of conveying the plot.

Firstly I guessed 'who dun it' early on, because her key clues were too obvious.
There was a degree of mystery after that in seeing whether I was right, but I found it frustrating that the characters didn't seem to spo
Ruth Brumby
I was interested in the way terrorism was investigated in terms of ordinary people, who were mostly quite believable. I liked the portrayal of the heroine as an ordinary woman in a largely male world. The competent writing and plot kept me engrossed, so this functioned well as a light read between more demanding books, but even at this level the book lacked ideas and reflection.
Mickey Hoffman
A great series if you like British spy novels. There is a minimum of gore and lots of intrigue.
Jan 12, 2015 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
Another fascinating insight into MI5. Though less insight into Liz
Oct 13, 2015 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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,
Jennifer (JC-S)
Aug 29, 2008 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
Michael Martz
Jun 27, 2016 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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 14, 2013 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
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
Jeremy Lee
Feb 02, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Sep 17, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
May 24, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Oct 04, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Jan 11, 2016 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
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
Candy Wood
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
Martin Baggs
Sep 29, 2014 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
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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)