By Tom Bradby
Published on: November 5, 2019
A spy thriller where everyone is a suspect and you’re not sure whom to trust – there were times I even questioned the main character. But in addition to being a spy thriller, this is also a story where secret service agent must juggle the demands of both work and home.
Senior MI6 officer Kate Henderson is in possession of the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb. She heads up the Russia Desk of the Secret Intelligence Service, and one of her undercover operations has revealed some alarming evidence that a senior UK politician is a high-level Russian informer.
Determined to find the identity of the traitor, Kate must risk everything to get to the truth. Until a young woman is brutally murdered as a consequence, which puts Kate and her team under the spotlight. With blood on her hands, her reputation to uphold, her family hanging by a thread, and an election looming, Kate is quickly running out of options—and out of time . . .
Secret Service is a rather timely spy thriller/political intrigue story that puts Russia’s desire for influence in other country’s political elections front and center. Set in the U.K., Kate Henderson and her team are listening to a conversation when they learn that not only is the current minister resigning soon, but that Russia has a very good foothold into who the next prime minister will be. If that wasn’t enough, the team also learns there is a mole amongst the British ranks, code-named Viper, that can assist Russia and help ensure their candidate’s success.
The story itself revolves around MI-6 operations as they try to ascertain who all the players are that were discussed in the overheard Russian conversation, but unfortunately knowing that there is a mole leads them to a lot of frustrating moments since no one is sure who it is and whom they can trust. But while there is a spy whose identify must be ascertained, Kate also has a home life that involves two teenagers, a mother with Alzheimer’s, and two family members – her husband and her aunt – who are also employed by the government. Kate is trying to figure out how to balance home life with the overtime work being required of her as well as short notice trips abroad.
Overall, I enjoyed the story. It didn’t immediately draw me in when I first started reading, especially since Kate was pushing a girl really, really hard to plant a bug for them. The girl was scared – really scared – but Kate continued to push. Instead, I became rather captivated once the British Secret Service began listening to the Russian conversations. The dialogue between the Russians and the immediate take by the British on what Russians may be referring to made for a very interesting read as it went back and forth. Plus, I rather enjoyed the other spy-related moments, not to mention deaths of characters I liked that kept my interest. However, as the course of the story played on some of the drama in the home life started to wear on me at times. But, all in all the plot progresses nicely and is evenly paced through out the entire story.
Rating: 4 stars
Thanks to Netgalley and Grove Atlantic for the advanced ready copy and opportunity to provide an honest review.