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VINE VOICEon 12 July 2007
The premise of The Moneypenny diaries is that Kate Westbrook is the real- life niece of Miss Jane Moneypenny and that she has inherited diaries kept by her aunt during the time she was working at MI6. The diary has then been 'verified' and annotated by Westbrook.

This book is the second in the series and it really helps if you have read 'Guardian Angel' first, as the story refers back to it throughout.

Having helped to sort out the cuban Missile Crisis in the first book, this time Moneypenny is involved with the case of Kim Philby, the famous double-agent. Moneypenny befriends Philby's wife in the hope that she can persuade Philby to come back to the UK as damage limitation for MI6.

Once again, this is a brilliant novel (with a lot less footnotes this time), and although Bond is in this book he plays a minor role.

Chick-lit with brains (and a brief history lesson!!) Recommended.
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on 20 January 2007
Fans of the James Bond novels are in for quite a surprise if they are coming to Samantha Weinberg's (writing as Kate Westbrook) The Moneypenny Diaries series for the first time. What sets this series apart from all others in the literary 007 canon, and makes it all the more interesting, is that it's a bit more difficult to pinpoint exactly who the target reader is. Weinberg is painstakingly careful in tying together the action and emotions in the story to real-life historical events at the time (Secret Servant takes place from early 1963 to mid-1964). In effect, the result is a novel that has widespread appeal. Whether one is a fan of the original Ian Fleming novels or Charlie Higson's current Young Bond adventures, The Moneypenny Diaries series is one well worth examining.

While the first novel in the series, Guardian Angel, was a swift action/adventure tale from beginning to end, Secret Servant has an advantage. Book one was faced with the task of introducing and establishing the main characters of the series, but this time there is room to expand on what we know of them. This includes both allies and enemies. Guardian Angel seemed to focus equally on both James Bond and Jane Moneypenny in the storyline, bringing them together for their mission involving the Cuban Missile Crisis. This time the spotlight is clearly on Jane from beginning to end--and all the better for it.

In Secret Servant, the mission concerns the defection of Harold Adrian Russell `Kim' Philby, who is dubbed `the greatest traitor of his generation.' Without spoiling too much of the plot, the first half of the story revolves around the daily tasks Jane faces at her job, as well as the personal side of her life (her beloved "R" is present once again). The second half concerns Jane's own mission and the many risks that accompany it. In this effect, the novel resembles an original Fleming adventure. Jane is excited that she finally will be handling an assignment on her own, this time without the protection of having James Bond at her side. Like many other Bond novels, Secret Servant features several locations around the world, including: Kingston, Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad, Helsinki, and others.

As an added luxury of the continuous character development throughout, readers are treated to perhaps the most in depth look at the lives of M, Bill Tanner, and the others at SIS. Being M's secretary, Jane gets an insider's view at how bleak current events affect her boss. James Bond is also present, despite Jane being the center of attention. At the beginning of the story, he is reported missing in action following his ordeal with Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Japan. He eventually returns, brainwashed by the KGB, and attempts to take the life of M. Fleming fans will also recognize this section from The Man With The Golden Gun. After recovering from the incident, Bond is sent to deal with Francisco Scaramanga in Jamaica, while Jane concentrates her efforts on the Kim Philby mission. Bill Tanner is also given more to do in Secret Servant, being of great assistance to Jane late in the story. There are also subtle hints of his jealousy of Bond's appeal to Jane, which she picks up on.

Besides dealing with Kim Philby, Jane is constantly subjected to fear of the possible return of Colonel Boris, one of the surviving villains from the first novel. Weinberg spends just the right amount of detail describing how he could jeopardize Jane's chances of success on her mission. The suspense continues to build up to the eventual confrontation between the two--where a major plot point introduced in the first novel is finally explained. Another highlight of the novel is Jane's encounter with the `mountainous' and brutal Comrade Ludmilla, one who is particularly skillful with birch sticks. The scene is over quickly, but it comes as a bit of a surprise in that point in the story and exposes Jane to the more malignant aspects of an SIS mission.

While Jane proceeds on her mission from chapter to chapter, Weinberg cleverly ties in the current-day storyline of Kate Westbrook, Jane's niece. Westbrook follows in Jane's footsteps along the way, using all of her resources, even at the cost of her own job, to try to solve a mystery she believes her aunt stumbled upon: a mole within the SIS. At the end of the story, this mystery is left unsolved, but Westbrook is unyielding in her search for the truth, leaving Secret Servant: The Moneypenny Diaries on a truly intricatly designed cliffhanger and the reader eager for the next volume.

commanderbond.net
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on 7 January 2007
The Moneypenny Diaries series really "clicks" with Samantha Weinberg's deft second book, Secret Servant. Like espionage itself, you're not too sure where things are headed nor what information is relevant, until a startling revelation suddenly makes your vision clear and you realize EVERYTHING is relevant and danger abounds. Secret Servant reveals this series to be a single narrative, reaching all the way into the present. It also reveals it to be intricately layered, ambitious, and very very clever.

Secret Servant uses a structure similar to the first book of the series, Guardian Angel. In the first half of the novel Miss Jane Moneypenny is generally an observer. This first half is tricky for the author and a little challenging for the reader as Miss Moneypenny is pretty passive. In this regard, it's very much a personal diary (Bond fans will delight in the "behind the scenes" take on Bond's assassination attempt on M). But because it's a diary there is also unique tension in how suddenly, and dramatically, the world can change in a day. In Secret Servant there are several of these dramatic entries which turn the world and the narrative on its head, including that most startling and transforming of all days, November 22, 1963, the day John F. Kennedy was killed.

The second half of the book sees Miss Moneypenny thrown convincingly into a mission of her own (this time without James Bond by her side). Here the book assumes a more conventional thriller narrative, and a very good one at that. Unlike Guardian Angel, the mission in Secret Servant remains modest in scale (maybe because it doesn't included 007) and is much better for it. But the paired down scale still delivers plenty of Cold War suspense and some genuine Bondian action. Miss Moneypenny's hotel-room encounter with a sadistic Russian masseuse feels like something out of Fleming.

What is most surprising about Secret Servant, and what makes it the better of the two Moneypenny novels IMO, is the emergence of a contemporary story-line involving the consequences to fictional author Kate Westbrook (niece of Miss Moneypenny) over the publication of the first book. The real author, Samantha Weinberg, very cleverly interweaves the adventures of "Kate" throughout the novel, creating a parallel story -- a parallel diary of sorts -- which eventually ties into the story of Miss Moneypenny and provides the most intriguing springboard for the third book. It's also fun to ride the shift in tones between Miss Moneypenny's formal and domestic writing style and the more modern, independent style of Kate. Their voices and points of view define their worlds as clearly as the subtle change in font.

Unlike the first book, James Bond is largely absent for Secret Servant. That's okay. He's not missed. In Secret Servant, Miss Moneypenny and "Kate Westbrook" confidently assume front and center of this series, hurtling along with the reader toward an exciting (and possibly tragic?) climax in volume 3 -- which cannot come soon enough for this reader.
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on 20 November 2006
what a breath of fresh air it was to discover this book. Firstly, any fan of James Bond - and as we know, there are more than a few - will be delighted to be able to immerse themselves in the adventures of another character from the series - and what better character than Jane Moneypenny? Sexily prudish, dryly funny, and caught between her disaproval of and her infatuation for Bond herself, Westbrook, uses the literary device of a diary written during the days of the cuban missile crisis and the assassination of Kennedy , to give Moneypenny a life and spy mission of her own. what's fun about this book is the way Westbrook has painstakingly tied it in with Ian Flemings characters and original stories - and for those who have forgotten the details, they are printed at the bottom of the page - another device which lends an authenticity to Moneypenny's adventures.

The whole idea of the Moneypenny diaries plays on the unwillingness of a reader to let go of characters they begin to invest emotion in whilst reading a book . Who hasn't wondered what happens to them long after the last page has been read. In Secret Servant Westbrook gives you all the answers - and a lot more questions as well. Great fun and highly recommended.
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on 11 July 2007
I couldn't put this book down from the second I started reading it. It's a beautifully rendered, utterly convincing journey into the diaries of Miss Moneypenny - which reveal her as a far more significant character in the 007 set-up than ever previously imagined. Here she takes on the Cold War, getting involved with Russian double agents, a nail-biting adventure to Moscow, while at the same time, holding on to her normal job, holding off 007, and trying to get to the bottom of her own father's disappearance at the end of the Second World War. Just the thing for an intelligent holiday read, and definitely not just for girls. Splendid stuff.
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on 9 November 2008
second in the series of books that are the moneypenny diaries. a look at the secret service mi6 through the eyes of the most famous secretary in the world, miss moneypenny. supposedly edited by her niece (obviously just fiction) this story has a dual plot of a mission that moneypenny undertook to moscow and the story of what happened to her niece in her pursuit of publishing the diaries. lacks the excitement and pizzaz of a james bond adventure. felt it was trying to hard to be a spy story
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on 18 November 2006
The first book was fantastic and with Secret Servant Kate Westbrook defies convention by making the sequel even better than the original. I hope there's more to come!
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VINE VOICEon 24 February 2007
The premise of The Moneypenny diaries is that Kate Westbrook is the real- life niece of Miss Jane Moneypenny and that she has inherited diaries kept by her aunt during the time she was working at MI6. The diary has then been 'verified' and annotated by Westbrook.

This book is the second in the series and it really helps if you have read 'Guardian Angel' first, as the story refers back to it throughout.

Having helped to sort out the cuban Missile Crisis in the first book, this time Moneypenny is involved with the case of Kim Philby, the famous double-agent. Moneypenny befriends Philby's wife in the hope that she can persuade Philby to come back to the UK as damage limitation for MI6.

Once again, this is a brilliant novel (with a lot less footnotes this time), and although Bond is in this book he plays a minor role.

Chick-lit with brains (and a brief history lesson!!) Recommended.
0Comment| 5 people found this helpful. Was this review helpful to you?YesNoReport abuse
on 8 October 2007
Fans of the James Bond novels are in for quite a surprise if they are coming to Samantha Weinberg's (writing as Kate Westbrook) The Moneypenny Diaries series for the first time. What sets this series apart from all others in the literary 007 canon, and makes it all the more interesting, is that it's a bit more difficult to pinpoint exactly who the target reader is. Weinberg is painstakingly careful in tying together the action and emotions in the story to real-life historical events at the time (Secret Servant takes place from early 1963 to mid-1964). In effect, the result is a novel that has widespread appeal. Whether one is a fan of the original Ian Fleming novels or Charlie Higson's current Young Bond adventures, The Moneypenny Diaries series is one well worth examining.

While the first novel in the series, Guardian Angel, was a swift action/adventure tale from beginning to end, Secret Servant has an advantage. Book one was faced with the task of introducing and establishing the main characters of the series, but this time there is room to expand on what we know of them. This includes both allies and enemies. Guardian Angel seemed to focus equally on both James Bond and Jane Moneypenny in the storyline, bringing them together for their mission involving the Cuban Missile Crisis. This time the spotlight is clearly on Jane from beginning to end--and all the better for it.

In Secret Servant, the mission concerns the defection of Harold Adrian Russell `Kim' Philby, who is dubbed `the greatest traitor of his generation.' Without spoiling too much of the plot, the first half of the story revolves around the daily tasks Jane faces at her job, as well as the personal side of her life (her beloved "R" is present once again). The second half concerns Jane's own mission and the many risks that accompany it. In this effect, the novel resembles an original Fleming adventure. Jane is excited that she finally will be handling an assignment on her own, this time without the protection of having James Bond at her side. Like many other Bond novels, Secret Servant features several locations around the world, including: Kingston, Berlin, Moscow, Leningrad, Helsinki, and others.

As an added luxury of the continuous character development throughout, readers are treated to perhaps the most in depth look at the lives of M, Bill Tanner, and the others at SIS. Being M's secretary, Jane gets an insider's view at how bleak current events affect her boss. James Bond is also present, despite Jane being the center of attention. At the beginning of the story, he is reported missing in action following his ordeal with Ernst Stavro Blofeld in Japan. He eventually returns, brainwashed by the KGB, and attempts to take the life of M. Fleming fans will also recognize this section from The Man With The Golden Gun. After recovering from the incident, Bond is sent to deal with Francisco Scaramanga in Jamaica, while Jane concentrates her efforts on the Kim Philby mission. Bill Tanner is also given more to do in Secret Servant, being of great assistance to Jane late in the story. There are also subtle hints of his jealousy of Bond's appeal to Jane, which she picks up on.

Besides dealing with Kim Philby, Jane is constantly subjected to fear of the possible return of Colonel Boris, one of the surviving villains from the first novel. Weinberg spends just the right amount of detail describing how he could jeopardize Jane's chances of success on her mission. The suspense continues to build up to the eventual confrontation between the two--where a major plot point introduced in the first novel is finally explained. Another highlight of the novel is Jane's encounter with the `mountainous' and brutal Comrade Ludmilla, one who is particularly skillful with birch sticks. The scene is over quickly, but it comes as a bit of a surprise in that point in the story and exposes Jane to the more malignant aspects of an SIS mission.

While Jane proceeds on her mission from chapter to chapter, Weinberg cleverly ties in the current-day storyline of Kate Westbrook, Jane's niece. Westbrook follows in Jane's footsteps along the way, using all of her resources, even at the cost of her own job, to try to solve a mystery she believes her aunt stumbled upon: a mole within the SIS. At the end of the story, this mystery is left unsolved, but Westbrook is unyielding in her search for the truth, leaving Secret Servant: The Moneypenny Diaries on a truly intricatly designed cliffhanger and the reader eager for the next volume.

commanderbond.net
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on 2 August 2013
This is simply a great series! If you are not a Bond-fan, you will just enjoy the pacing of a great adventure. If you are a fan of the Bond movies, you will enjoy all the familiar persons from 007's universe, and if you are a fan of Ian Fleming's litterary James Bond (not the movie-version), you will be amazed at the level of attention to detali that Samatha Weinberg (Kate Westbrook) has managed to put into the book. The Moneypenny Diaries is a series of three books: 1) Guardian Angel, 2) Secret Servant and 3) Final Fling. They are really great books! I have read them and enjoyed them (I'm a Bond-fan), and my wife has read them too, and she is now a Moneypenny-fan!
Seek them out, buy them and enjoy reading them!
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