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Illegal Action [Hardcover]

Stella Rimington
3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)

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Book Description

2 Aug 2007
Liz Carlyle has been transferred to Counter-Espionage, along with her research sidekick Peggy Kingsolving. Once the hub of MI5 operations, the department has been reduced in size since the end of the Cold War, and priority within the service is on counter-terrorism. Yet there is plenty for Liz to do. In fact, there are more spies operating in London today than during the height of East-West hostilities. This includes Russian spies, who continue to operate in number. What's changed is their targets - now they spy on the international financial community that has made London its base in the last twenty years, as well as on the wealthy influential Russian 'oligarchs', many of whom have also come to London to live. Liz learns of a Russian government plot to 'silence' one of these oligarchs, Nikita Brunovsky, who is an increasingly vocal opponent of the Putin regime. How he is to be kept quiet is unclear, but since the Foreign Office dread any kind of incident, Liz is assigned to keep it from happening. Almost simultaneously, Liz and Peggy also learn of the presence of an Illegal Support officer in London, one Vladimir Rykov, who is putatively attached to the Russian embassy. An Illegal is someone who operates (often for many years) under a completely fabricated identity - and Rykov, it seem, has been sent to London to help an Illegal now based there. To protect Brunovsky from his Kremlin foes, Liz goes undercover and joins the oligarch's retinue. As she tries to determine who around the Russian might be willing to betray him, she has to consider too whether this traitor may not also be the Illegal she and Peggy are seeking.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 304 pages
  • Publisher: Hutchinson; First Edition, First Impression edition (2 Aug 2007)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0091797225
  • ISBN-13: 978-0091797225
  • Product Dimensions: 23.4 x 15.6 x 3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.9 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (54 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 593,099 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

More About the Author

Stella 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 three Liz Carlyle novels.

Product Description


Rimington's plot... bristles with subterfuge and splices in allusions to Litvinenko's poisoning to give Illegal Action a contemporary feel... Gripping
-- Financial Times

There is every sign of insider knowledge about this spying business as our hero Liz enters the world of mega-rich and mega-eccentric Russian `oligarchs' in London -- Observer

Book Description

The third thriller from the former head of MI5, featuring MI5 officer Liz Carlyle --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
12 of 12 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Fine for the beach but not her best effort 17 Aug 2008
As `Illegal Action' begins, Liz Carlyle is being transferred to Counter-espionage within MI5 a move she views as a demotion. However, soon after she arrives, word leaks of a plot by the Russians to kill one of their influential oligarchs here in London. Intelligence leads Liz to carry out an undercover operation where she must pose as an art history student and spend time in the home of Brunovsky, a charismatic and incredibly wealthy man who could be under threat. It seems that none of the people in Brunovsky's intimate circle are who they say they are and it's up to Liz to get to the truth.

I have read and enjoyed Stella Rimington's other books, but for some reason i found this one slightly lack lustre. The plot was Ok, but fell apart towards the end and I didn't find myself engaged with the characters as much as I had been in previous books. This novel might be OK for the book and is an easy read, but it certainly isn't the best example of her writing.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not her best book! 17 Jan 2008
Stella Rimington is clearly an intelligent person (and she should be - given her former job!) - her language is brilliant.
I was, however, disappointed with this her third spy-novel. Not as exciting as the two first. When finished I sat back with a feeling that either the author didn't really have anything to say, or didn't have time enough time to write this book. It build up quite well, but then ended so suddenly, and never became really thrilling.
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9 of 10 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Less fantasy than Bond; a lively page-turner 20 Nov 2008
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
No James Bond smoothie knocking off the baddies and knocking up the birds, Liz Carlyle's character is far more down to earth, far more credible. The women in the book don't fall about screaming when they see something iffy, but get on with the job. Mind you, the blokes in power are often represented as arrogant tossers--the male equivalent of the cardboard hysterical woman, the kind of people we all recognize from the workplace.

The pace of the story is good and fast, making the book something of a page-turner. Just don't compare Rimington with Le Carré, yet.

Some voyeurs might whinge at the lack of sex scenes in the story, but such scenes would only have delayed the important stuff, weakening the tale.

Rimington is certainly improving as an author and spinner of yarns. Good for her. Knowing the Service as thoroughly as she does, she must surely be at great pains not to tell too much, not to give away some "useful" information, lest she be branded "another Peter Wright". But within the limits of what she can safely divulge, she presents us with a credible view of some aspects of work in MI5. If anything's missing, it's the sheer drudgery of some of the analytical work. But who'd be interested in that?

Good on yer, Stella. Keep 'em coming.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good read. 7 Nov 2008
By Ann Fairweather TOP 1000 REVIEWER VINE VOICE
Format:Mass Market Paperback
Just finished this book after reading all others by Stella Remington. Again there is much to enjoy, the good characterisation, the locations in London, the inner life of MI5 and MI6, and a very contemporary plot. But also, there is much to find a bit short-changed ( as in the other books_) mostly here this anti-climax ending, utterly unprobable, unconvincing endings that Remington seems to be so good at.
The story I found a bit far-fetched, and stretching belief. Still I would recommend it for a journey or a long airport delay.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An authentic spy novel 1 Dec 2007
By Julia Flyte TOP 50 REVIEWER
This is the third thriller penned by Stella Rimington, the former Director General of Britain's MI5. Rimington's first hand experience in the Secret Service comes through in her writing and gives her novels a very authentic feel. When she writes about the way that a surveillance operation is conducted, for example, you know that this is really how it goes down.

This is an enjoyable book that takes off fast and holds your attention. The plot takes off where "Secret Asset" left off (though it's not necessary to have read that book) and again centres on Liz Carlyle, now transferred to the Counter Espionage division within MI5. Her team become aware of a Russian Government plot to silence a Russian oligarch living in the UK. Liz goes undercover in a bid to prevent the plot, but quickly becomes a target herself. Can she and her team find the potential assassin before it's too late?

It's hard to find a thriller that has a good ending and unfortunately this book is yet another that loses its way around the 90% mark. The resolution is ultimately weak but it's still a good book that keeps you hooked throughout, and while some of the key plot elements are very predictable, there are a couple of twists that most definitely aren't. The main characters are well thought out and the premise feels realistic. Rimington has written another winner and I look forward to her next.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A really good read 18 July 2013
By G
Format:Mass Market Paperback|Verified Purchase
Having read the first Liz Carlyle book At Risk I and my whole family are totally gripped by them - fascinating
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Another good read 1 April 2013
By D90 Man
Format:Kindle Edition
Always moves at a good pace and keeps you guessing (almost) to the end....I shall keep reading more Liz Carlyle stories
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Illegal Action 7 Nov 2009
Format:Mass Market Paperback
The first time round I borrowed all five novels from the library. After reading they immediately went to the top of my "must have" list, so I bought the whole set plus the autobiography. Written with authority, credibility and humour they really do fit into the category of unputdownable! I can't wait for the next one.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
A very good story that we come to expect from Stella Rimington
Published 5 days ago by Mr. G. M. Hamilton
1.0 out of 5 stars Pretty trite!
I am afraid this was very tedious and the way these books are written is 'dumbed down' for the masses I feel.
Published 8 days ago by Ev
3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad
She's not a great writer but the books are fun, and she had the benefit of insight on her side.
Published 9 days ago by Picture Perfect
3.0 out of 5 stars Three Stars
Not one of the best in series
Published 13 days ago by Dave
4.0 out of 5 stars Four Stars
It is good story with nice twists in the plot. :)
Published 14 days ago by Prasenjit Bhattacharjee
5.0 out of 5 stars Authentically gripping. Well written and absorbing.
Authentically gripping. Well written and absorbing.
Published 24 days ago by Kevin
5.0 out of 5 stars Ripping good read.
Love Stella Rimingtons novels and this one did not disappoint.
Published 24 days ago by English enthusiast
4.0 out of 5 stars excellent
Illegal Action is an excellent riveting read. Remington clearly shows her understanding of the world of counter espionage and of the rivalries within the intelligence environment
Published 26 days ago by wynander
2.0 out of 5 stars little mystery no thrills no suspense
Less mystery and suspense than a 'Famous 5' children's novel and feels as if it dates from the same era.
Published 1 month ago by Harold Chrystal
5.0 out of 5 stars Great read!
Great read!
Published 1 month ago by christopher
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