Does the post-9/11 world have room for espionage fiction? First-novelist Rimington, the former Director General of Britain’s MI5, certainly thinks so.
An Afghani terrorist who’s taken considerable pains to slip into England illegally but under his own name is en route to a rendezvous with a discontented young Englishwoman, a fearsome “invisible” agent, when something goes wrong. The Norfolk fisherman bringing in Faraj Mansoor together with a boatload of other illegal immigrants sets his eye on Faraj’s backpack, and Faraj has to kill him to keep from losing it. Rimington reserves the slow-moving first quarter of her story for the events leading up to this murder. Luckily, her fictional counterpart, Liz Carlyle, who runs counterterrorism agents for MI5, is quick to link the telltale bullet, a 7.62 mm armor-piercing round, to an early warning she’s already received about Faraj’s identification papers, and the hunt is finally on for Faraj and his home-grown terrorist contact, who’s working under the name Lucy Wharmby. “I’m not quite working with the police,” Liz tells a reluctant witness. “I’m working alongside them.” Every branch of Her Majesty’s government agrees that Faraj and Lucy have to be captured before they act. But the stalwarts of MI5, their flirtatious counterparts in MI6, the elite Special Forces, and the time-servers in the local constabulary have very different ideas of what the two terrorists might be up to, where their target might be, and what to do about it. Their day-of-the-jackal search for Faraj and Lucy, played out against the violent and resourceful countermeasures of their targets, doesn’t exactly break new ground in the genre. Yet once she sets up her irresistible situation, Rimington controls the game of hunters and hunted like—well, like a master of real-life spycraft.
New wine, expertly crafted, in old bottles.