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Books by the Blogger:

THE BATTLE OF ARGINUSAE :
VICTORY AT SEA AND ITS TRAGIC AFTERMATH IN THE FINAL YEARS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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KILLING ERATOSTHENES:
A TRUE CRIME STORY
FROM ANCIENT ATHENS
By Debra Hamel


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READING HERODOTUS:
A GUIDED TOUR THROUGH THE WILD BOARS, DANCING SUITORS, AND CRAZY TYRANTS OF THE HISTORY
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

THE MUTILATION OF THE HERMS:
UNPACKING AN ANCIENT MYSTERY
By Debra Hamel


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TRYING NEAIRA:
THE TRUE STORY OF A COURTESAN'S SCANDALOUS LIFE IN ANCIENT GREECE
By Debra Hamel


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paperback | hardcover (UK)

PRISONERS OF THE PELOPONNESIAN WAR
By Debra Hamel


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SOCRATES AT WAR:
THE MILITARY HEROICS OF AN ICONIC INTELLECTUAL
By Debra Hamel


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ANCIENT GREEKS IN DRAG:
THE LIBERATION OF THEBES AND OTHER ACTS OF HEROIC TRANSVESTISM
By Debra Hamel


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IT WAS A DARK AND STORMY TWEET:
FIVE HUNDRED 1ST LINES IN 140 CHARACTERS OR LESS
By Debra Hamel


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Authors & publishers:
I've decided to stop accepting review copies. The downside of getting buried in free books is that reading increasingly becomes an obligatory act. After some seven years of blogging books, it's time for me to return to the simple pleasure of reading only the books I want to read, when I want to read them.



  
From a random review:

  

« Troost, J. Maarten: Getting Stoned with Savages | Main | Shachtman, Tom: Rumspringa: To Be or Not to Be Amish »

Rimington, Stella: At Risk

  

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Knopf © 2005, 367 pages [amazon]
4.5 stars

Thirty-four-year-old Liz Carlyle, the protagonist of Stella Rimington's debut novel, is an intelligence officer with MI5, Britain's Secret Service. At Risk finds Liz heading up an investigation into the possible infiltration of Britain by an "invisible," a terrorist who is or can pass as English and so not arouse suspicion: a nightmare, in other words. Rimington leads readers through the investigation, following Liz as she and her team track and analyze the terrorists' activity, and following the terrorists as they make small but significant errors that render them vulnerable to capture.

The author worked for the Secret Service for almost thirty years prior to her retirement in 1996, and she was appointed director general of MI5 in 1992.Rimington tells her story from multiple perspectives, including that of the invisible, whom she is able to make three-dimensional--not sympathetic, surely, but human. Among the good guys, Liz is a well-rounded character, and those working around her emerge as distinct personalities, though they are not explored in depth. The interaction between Liz and her colleagues feels right, in part because Rimington writes dialogue well, weaving together the personal and work-related threads of small encounters realistically. Rimington's writing also shines when she is introducing background information--most noticeably in the first chapter--which she does very deftly.

It should hardly surprise us if the intelligence-related details in Rimington's thriller ring true. The author worked for the Secret Service for almost thirty years prior to her retirement in 1996, and she was appointed director general of MI5 in 1992. What is surprising is that Rimington has pulled off such a great piece of fiction her first time out, telling a complex story that is both riveting and well-written. The only criticism I have is minor, that Liz's problematic personal relationship--an affair with a married man who cannot know the nature of her work--plays as an afterthought and might well have been omitted. (Perhaps this relationship will be explored further in Rimington's sequel, Secret Asset.) Fans of spy novels take note: this smart intelligence procedural is a great read.

Review summary: Thirty-four-year-old Liz Carlyle is an intelligence officer with MI5, Britain's Secret Service. At Risk finds Liz heading up an investigation into the infiltration of Britain by an "invisible," a terrorist who is or can pass as English and so not arouse suspicion. Rimington leads readers through the investigation, following Liz as she and her team track and analyze the terrorists' activity, and following the terrorists as they make small but significant errors that render them vulnerable to capture. It should hardly surprise us if the intelligence-related details in Rimington's thriller ring true. The author worked for the Secret Service for almost thirty years prior to her retirement in 1996. What is surprising is that Rimington has pulled off such a great piece of fiction her first time out, telling a complex story that is both riveting and well-written.

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Book-blog.com reviews by Debra Hamel are licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by-nc-nd/3.0/).

Comments

1.

This sounds like an excellent read, and one that I probably wouldn't have found without you. Thanks!

2.

I'm glad! If you wind up reading it and you remember, let us know what you think.




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About the blogger: Debra is the mother of two preternaturally attractive girls and the author of a number of books about ancient Greece, including Trying Neaira: The True Story of a Courtesan's Scandalous Life in Ancient Greece. She writes and blogs from her subterranean lair in North Haven, CT. Read more.

  
  
  
  
  
  
  
  






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Book-blog.com by Debra Hamel is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution - Noncommercial - No Derivative Works 3.0 License.