The 7th Liz Carlyle novel by Stella Rimington is a web of intrigue and espionage. It starts in Geneva, 2012. Russell White and Terry Castle are tennis partners who work in the Foreign Office. In the locker room, a man tells White he wants to speak to a woman, and only her, who, after contacting MI6 in London, turns out to be Liz Carlyle who is with MI5. The man is identified as Alexander Sorsky, a Russian Intelligence Agent. He remembered Liz from 20 years earlier when she attended a lecture by him on political theory.
She is dispatched to Geneva to meet Sorsky. He has information concerning a US-GB 'Project Clarity' developing an advanced military communication system using encrypted codes to control pilotless drones via a satellite system. Someone has infiltrated the programme passing information to a third country with the intent of sabotaging the system using counter decrypting codes. This may lead to another Cold or worse, a Cyber-War. He insists this person is not Russian and that he (Sorsky) is a patriot, not a traitor. This information is eventually taken seriously in Geneva, London and America and triggers a traipse through any evidence or leads that can be collected from the cooperating relevant Intelligence services, including the sites of the project's headquarters.
The hunt for the mole becomes tortuous, with involvement of goings-on in Marseilles, large amounts of money passing through Swiss and Soviet State banks and additional subversive characters involved with espionage. Rimington draws the characters into the narrative clearly into what is a complex international plot, keeping the reader enlightened throughout. A sub-plot occurs simultaneously. Liz's mother, Susan, has befriended Ed Treglown. His daughter, Cathy, has a 7 year old boy, Teddy. She has become involved with an anarchist cult in Marseilles who are becoming more violent in their intentions and are intent on forcing money out of her under threat of harm to her son. Liz's manfriend in Paris, Martin Seurat, an Intelligence Agent, sets about trying to curtail these activities planting informants into their midst. The outcomes of these adventures gradually and logically unravel with investigative team work.
The novel may be short on action but is compensated by an insight into the murky, secretive, enigmatic workings of agents and counter-agents and the invidious or rewarding demands required in their profession. Stella Rimington has again produced an easy and appealing read that is enjoyable.