Customer Reviews


64 Reviews
5 star:
 (25)
4 star:
 (24)
3 star:
 (11)
2 star:
 (2)
1 star:
 (2)
 
 
 
 
 
Average Customer Review
Share your thoughts with other customers
Create your own review
 
 

The most helpful favourable review
The most helpful critical review


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent first novel (3.5 stars from me)!
I really enjoyed this book. I was a little suspicious seeing the "From the former head of MI5" written on the cover. These marketing ploys by publishers get worse and worse lately. So, I picked it up with some reservations. But, I was not at all dissapointed. The story is wonderfully crafted. A whole lot of apparently unrelated bits and pieces of information get pulled...
Published on 23 Oct. 2005 by Rory Morty

versus
26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insider writes her debut spy thriller � a worthwhile read
Publisher: Arrow Books (2004), ISBN: 0099461390
At Risk is the debut spy thriller written by the former head of Security Service (aka MI 5), Stella Rimington. The author was the first woman to head MI 5, and the heroine of her story still comes up against some of the prejudices that continue to afflict women in traditional male bastions. Not that she is particularly...
Published on 10 Jun. 2005 by Kurt Steiner


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

26 of 26 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An insider writes her debut spy thriller � a worthwhile read, 10 Jun. 2005
This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
Publisher: Arrow Books (2004), ISBN: 0099461390
At Risk is the debut spy thriller written by the former head of Security Service (aka MI 5), Stella Rimington. The author was the first woman to head MI 5, and the heroine of her story still comes up against some of the prejudices that continue to afflict women in traditional male bastions. Not that she is particularly bothered about this - she can afford to, she made it to the top after all - and nor is her heroine, Liz Carlyle.
Carlyle is a veteran with 10 years of service spent on the Organised Crime and Counter Terrorist desks. Her boss, the rather mercurial Charles Wetherby who's still in love with a wife afflicted by some sort of degenerative disease, has quiet confidence in Liz's abilities to tie loose threads of information together into a solid piece of analysis.
That first piece of information comes from Germany where a fake UK driving licence is ordered in the name of Faraj Mansoor, the homonym of a man known to Pakistan security services as a terrorist. Another thread is the chatter of terrorists who are eagerly expecting an "invisible" to come into the UK, a terrorist with the nationality and appearance of a national of the country in which he, or she, operates.
The story develops in a style reminiscent of Dan Brown's writing (The Da Vinci Code), a series of seemingly uncorrelated scenes which gradually morph into a full picture - I guess just like intelligence work. The plot does not let go of you and the author's tradecraft has undoubtedly instilled the story with a sense of verisimilitude. The dénouement is, however, a bit of a letdown - it is just a bit too soppy albeit not soppy enough to feel disappointed about having read the book in the first place.
The story also fails to fully develop Liz Carlyle's emotional past illustrated by her seemingly tumultuous love life (what happens to her lover boy in the end?). We do know, though, that Liz is a dedicated career girl who puts her personal life on the backburner - a reference to the author's chest thumping in her autobiography (Open Secret). Perhaps, Carlyle will be more revealed in the books to come just like Ian Fleming's Bond took several books to reveal us his character.
I did like the innuendos in the passing and not always flattering references to the harmonious co-operation between security services (e.g. MI 6, SAS, corrupt Special Branch officers, lazy officers on the beat), the new MI 5 recruitment procedures, and the brouhaha surrounding ex-agents writing books.
All in all, this reader/reviewer will buy the author's next release just as he read her autobiography. Stella Rimington has developed a writing style which is entirely her own and may disappoint those expecting to read a new George Smiley story by Le Carré. It is not, but it is very good nevertheless deserving a 3-star rating.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


18 of 18 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An excellent first novel (3.5 stars from me)!, 23 Oct. 2005
By 
Rory Morty "Rory Morty" (Giessen, Germany) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
I really enjoyed this book. I was a little suspicious seeing the "From the former head of MI5" written on the cover. These marketing ploys by publishers get worse and worse lately. So, I picked it up with some reservations. But, I was not at all dissapointed. The story is wonderfully crafted. A whole lot of apparently unrelated bits and pieces of information get pulled togther, and this story was wonderfully realistic. One wonders if it perhaps comes from some MI5 files that the public will, of course, never get to hear about!!
AT RISK opens with an introduction to Liz Carlyle, the key character in the novel, currently an agent-runner with the counter-terrorism unit of MI5. Liz, while bumping heads with colleagues thanks to the usual inter-offfice, and indeed, intra-office politics in a male-dominated workplace, is also confidently supported by Charles Wetherby, her superior at MI5. We then witness the entrance into the UK of an "invisible", a terrorist and/or terrorist aid who can pass off for a local, and this invisible facilitates the entry into the UK of an arab terrorist. The plot takes off from there, and any further information would be a plot spoiler! It is certainly a fascinating and exciting story. And, with so much coverage of terrorism in the popular fiction today, this was a refreshingly original piece of story-telling (listen up, Vince Flynn!).
One cannot help but wonder how much the key character, Liz Carlyle, is actually Stella Rimmington. Carlyle's character is extremely well developed, and we get to learn a lot about her. In fact, all of the characters in the novel felt very real to me. I wholeheartedly recommend it!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars An Intelligence Proceedural, 18 Sept. 2008
By 
This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
'At Risk' is an intelligence procedural by Stella Rimington, the former Director General of the Security Service, MI5. It's concerned with the identification and pursuit of an ITS (Islamic Terror Syndicate) member (or members) thought to have been smuggled into the UK. As such, it describes the nuts and bolts of people smuggling, running intelligence sources (both at home and abroad) and analysing information in order to locate the likely whereabouts and behaviour of suspects.

Rimington gives an outline of the structure of the different services involved and the type (and at times lack of) co-operation between them. However there is nothing in the narrative that a reader familiar with this genre will not have come across before. The story includes the standard crumbs from the various intelligence service's high table, which are already well worn in fiction. MI6 are posh and crafty, the RAF posh and polite and the police, common and a bit grumpy. There's very little mention of the technology of intelligence gathering and analysis, beyond the use of e-mails and text messages. Rather, characters are often dashing out of the pub to look for a payphone. Presumably a fuller description of the communications techniques available might unsettle a public concerned with privacy and the surveillance society?

The central character is a thinly drawn Liz Carlisle. Her past and private life are described skeletally. Her clichéd affair-with-a-married-man-that-she-is-determined-to-come-out-of, gets barely any attention and disappears from the book at about the half way stage. This is obviously the first of a Liz Carlisle franchise, leaving plenty of time to pad out her character in subsequent books.

This reviewer found the narrative made sense on the first reading but suspects a second reading would make the building blocks of the main plot clearer and better bound together. The tale is good enough in the telling and combines decent descriptions of place with sufficient pace and action.

Having said that, the best part of the package is the former Director General's name on the spine, something that may have to be addressed if the franchise is to continue to engage the reader.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


4 of 4 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Very readable yarn, 4 Mar. 2012
By 
This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
I approached this book with some trepidation and without reading other reviews. I had expected that it would be more in the Le Carre mould with Rimmington using her wider ranging knowledge of MI5 to create a complex web of intrigue and perhaps going a bit over the top with unnecessary details about operational detail. A rather more heavyweight approach is fine when delivered with the literary finesse of a Le Carre or a PD James but I was not expecting Rimmington's literary skills to be quite that honed.

But far from being too heavyweight, the book is, in fact, at times perhaps rather too lightweight. Her writing style is also pretty fluent and what we get is a good readable yarn which never gets bogged down and which keeps you turning the pages.

Excellent first effort and highly recommended.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


12 of 14 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Fantastic, really enjoyed it. Can't wait for next one Stella, 28 July 2004
By 
Spangle33 (Houston, Texas United States) - See all my reviews
This review is from: At Risk (Hardcover)
Took this book on holiday to Aruba, unsure if I should because it was a large hardback but couldn't wait to start it. Very difficult to put down and continue with various vacation activities. Its well written, thought provoking, fast moving, very exciting, interesting but believable characters and an easy read. What I really liked about the way it was written was that it was discriptive but all the unecessary 'waffle' was left out, that often bulks up novels. Its one of those books that you can't wait to find out whats going to happen and then sorry when its all over. I was lucky to see Richard & Judys interview with Stella Rimington just before we left UK and liked her very much. My husband had met her around 1995 after she became head of M15 so was naturally intrigued by this book and desperate for me to finish so he could get his hands on it. He too read it all in a few days. My son(17yrs) also became interested and has the book now. We maybe didn't get to see as much of Aruba as we wanted to but enjoyed lots of good discussions afterwards and it gave us a much needed relaxing time reading in the sun. In her R+J interview Stella said she had lots of plots to write about so we just can't wait for the next one.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars A good read but creaks in places, 31 Dec. 2013
By 
Penny (London, England) - See all my reviews
This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
I was given this for Christmas and quite enjoyed it but found it creaked in places. I felt the author was handicapped by being too close to her subject, so that the book was rather too heavily weighed down with her inside knowledge of the procedures of the spying business at the expense of narrative drive.
As the author heself admits in the Acknowledgements, "The art of novelist and that of Intelligence Officer are very different". The writing of this debut novel apparently required perseverance and encouragement from her editor and it shows through somewhat.
But Liz Carlyle is a good character and I shall certainly try another one in the series, to see if the perseverance has paid off!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A SHARP EDGED FIRST-CLASS DEBUT, 22 Jan. 2005
By 
Gail Cooke (TX, USA) - See all my reviews
(TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: At Risk (Hardcover)
"At Risk" is a sharp edged first-class debut by an author who well knows her subject. The first woman director general of Britain's MI5, Stella Rimington, lived the perils and pitfalls found in this amazing spy thriller. She experienced the inner office politics encountered as a woman in a man's world, and faced the realities of terrorist attacks. After 25 years experience she is now a counter-terrorism expert and she brings all of her expertise to bear in penning her first novel.
Akin to the author herself protagonist Liz Carlyle is an Intelligence Officer with consummate smarts. In a male dominated profession, she's a bit of an in-your-face gal wearing high heels and designers duds. While most of her colleagues at Thames House tend to be drably dressed, Liz "often spent Saturday afternoons combing the antique clothing stalls in Camden Market for quixotically stylish bargains which, while they infringed no Service rules, certainly raised a few eyebrows."
Her one flaw seems to be found in affairs of the heart - her married boyfriend is really a louse. He's a man who "...had always had an unerring instinct for the tradecraft of adultery." Ah, well, not even Liz can know everything.
What she would very much like to know, actually needs to know is how to identify the terrorists who are able to cross borders because of their ethnic identity with the country they're entering. Almost before we know it our heroine is head to head with Al Qaeda and their like. She has consulted with her agents and determined that there is more than a probable terrorist threat - it's very possible. Suspense builds as each day and hour brings this possibility closer.
Liz is aided in her search by her superior, Charles Wetherby, a rather enigmatic but intriguing married man. It's obvious early on that Liz's growing interest in him is more than professional admiration.
Stella Rimington raises the bar for thriller writers with her compelling observation to detail, and shows a deft ability to create mounting suspense as the story unfolds.
- Gail Cooke
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars Not bad for a first novel, 6 Sept. 2011
By 
Noam Newman - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: At Risk (Paperback)
"At risk" is the title of the first novel written by Dame Stella Rimington, who received her damehood for running MI5. Not surprisingly, the book (and the following series) is about a female agent in MI5 - virgin territory for me (in terms of fiction, that is). Whilst Rimington is no literary stylist, her prose is far better than I had been led to believe, and reading the novel was an enjoyable experience.

As usual, the first few chapters provide background about several characters who appear later in the book; the story as such gets going at around the seventh or eighth chapter (the chapters themselves are very short). There are a few early chapters which could easily have been cut without causing damage to the story; they don't provide much background information and serve only to distract the reader.

Once the story gets going, it is an exciting read which is more similar to a police procedural than a spy novel. The story is a manhunt after two terrorists, in which protagonist Liz Carlyle provides most of the directions for the hunt. I doubt that in real life MI5 officers become so involved in such matters, and indeed, at a late stage in the story Carlyle feels that her part of the job - the cerebral analysis - is over, even though she eventually produces the final piece in the puzzle, the terrorists' target.

Carlyle does become some kind of 'wonder woman', divining intents correctly with too little input. Nowhere is this more apparent that the final chapter: in the previous scene, Carlyle suffered shell shock when the terrorists are apprehended and is hospitalised. She wakes up the next day with everything very fuzzy, but manages to make a conclusion on very slim evidence. I can't see how she had the time or the mental energy to achieve this, and as a result the book finishes on an unbelievable note.

I enjoyed the book sufficiently to order the next installment. I hope that this is more about her life in the office as an agent-runner/analyst and less about running around in the field.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


3.0 out of 5 stars An Okay Read But Too Bland!, 26 Oct. 2009
By 
bobbewig (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: At Risk (Hardcover)
At Risk, Rimington's debut spy thriller shows her potential as a writer but, overall, the book has too many flaws to consider it as anything more than just an okay read. Rimington, the former head of Britain's MI5, creates an interesting plot premise -- the British Intelligence Joint Counter-Terrorism Group has uncovered information about the ultimate intelligence nightmare. That is, a terrorist group may have activated an "invisible" agent (i.e., an ethnic native of the target country who can cross its borders unchecked and go unnoticed) in order to set up the foundation for monstrous harm. It is up to Rimington's main character, Intelligence Officer Liz Carlisle to analyze the information from her agents to determine if there is, indeed, an imminent terrorist threat and, if so, to figure out the invisible's point of entry. In the process of establishing At Risk's plot, Rimington works hard at creating an understanding of what the professional and personal life is like for a female Intelligence Officer employed in this tradional all-male environment and at introducing the reader to many secondary characters. Thoughout the first half of this book Rimington succeeds pretty well in telling an interesting story and in maintaining this reader's interest. However, in the second half of the book, I found the plot getting so bogged down in the extensive amount of information analyses that Carlisle had to do that, while this may be very realistic of the job of an Intelligence Officer, my attention level steadily diminished to the point that I was skimming certain passages in order to get to "the finish line." Further, the ending, while again realistic, was neither very surprising nor particularly thrilling. Further, in my opinion Rimington left too many of the threads untied in regards to Liz Carlisle's realtionships with some of the secondary characters. Hopefully, Rimington will tie these threads together in her next book, which I will probably read given the promise she ehibited in her debut.
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Compelling, 28 Sept. 2004
By 
This review is from: At Risk (Hardcover)
I bought this to take on holiday with me. I must admit I found the first couple of chapters hard going (probably just me!!)... but soon I was hooked. Certainly a book that I couldn't put down. This novel was one that sucked me in completely, I was there with the characters in what was an exceptionally well thought out and highly believable plot.
Her attention to detail pertaining to life as a Secret Service agent can only be down to personal experiences.
I can offer nothing but praise for Stella Rimmington. This book is fantastic!!
Help other customers find the most helpful reviews 
Was this review helpful to you? Yes No


‹ Previous | 1 27 | Next ›
Most Helpful First | Newest First

This product

At Risk
At Risk by Stella Rimington (Paperback - 2 Jun. 2005)
£5.99
In stock
Add to basket Add to wishlist
Only search this product's reviews