Who’s trying to torpedo the latest round of Mideast peace talks?
According to Peter Templeton, head of MI6’s Cyprus station, a trusted source has told him that two men, Lebanese importer Sami Veshara and freelance journalist Chris Marcham, plan to subvert the peace conference scheduled at a quiet Scottish shooting resort and cast the blame on Syria. The questions for Liz Carlyle and her counter-espionage colleagues in MI5 are clear: Is the intelligence credible? If it is, what exactly is the nature of the threat? What motives do the two accused conspirators have? Finally, given the stakes of the conference, should MI5 let Syria’s secret service deal with the alleged plotters, or protect and interrogate them? But none of these questions is easy to answer because, in Liz’s world, nothing is quite what it seems. Marcham’s relationship with Alexander Ledingham, who’s fascinated with churches, has a dark side. American divorcée Hannah Gold’s new friendship with Israeli trade attaché Danny Kollek bears closer examination. Aleppo, the hot new intelligence source for Ben Ahmad, of Syrian counter-terrorism, is more mysterious and powerful than any source Ahmad has used before. The wires are crossed between Andy Bokus, the head of the CIA’s London office, and Charles Wetherby, Liz’s boss at MI5, but not for the reasons they think. Liz is even wrong about Edward Treglown, the new man in her mother’s life. Sorting through the thicket of plots and red herrings—some planted by a devious and manipulative villain, others less forgivably tossed in by Rimington herself—Liz, together with her friend Peggy Kinsolving and debonair Miles Brookhaven of the CIA, identifies the likely source of the trouble just in time for the obligatory action-packed showdown in the Scottish hills.
A lumpy tale with a retro baddie and too many subplots, but still a step up from Illegal Action (2008). Maybe Liz, who’s certainly earned it, needs some time to herself.