Reviews for Geneva Trap

Booklist Reviews 2012 September #1
The details in this latest entry in the Liz Carlyle series of British intelligence spy thrillers--even down to such minutiae as the clothes favored by young agents versus older agents--ring so true that they could only come from someone who worked inside for a long time. Dame Stella Rimington did, beginning in 1968, when she joined MI5, and extending more than two decades, leading to her retirement as director general. The loneliness and difficulty of being an intelligence agent is accentuated here by the fact that Carlyle is a woman in a world still barricaded by men. A big part of the fascination in the series is in seeing how Carlyle navigates this world along with the larger one of international espionage. This time out, a Russian agent seeks out Carlyle with information about the potential cybersabotage of an Anglo-American defense program. The decades-old spy question of whom can you trust plays out against a backdrop of escalating terror in this time-sensitive, well-plotted thriller. Copyright 2012 Booklist Reviews.

BookPage Reviews 2012 October
Clever counter-intelligence

It undoubtedly adds a touch of credibility when the author of a legal thriller has pursued a stellar career as an attorney (think Scott Turow) or when the guy writing a police procedural has moved up through the ranks of the constabulary (Joseph Wambaugh). Few, however, bring better credentials to the table than Stella Rimington, the former head of Britain’s vaunted MI5 counter-intelligence agency. At the opening of her latest novel, The Geneva Trap, it looks as if the Cold War may be heating up once again.

In Switzerland, MI5 agent Liz Carlyle interrogates a Russian spy who claims to possess information about an imminent and potentially devastating cyber attack. Meanwhile, an intelligence drone falls from the sky over Oman, and U.S./Brit forces go on high alert. Are the Russians up to their old tricks, or is something more sinister at play?

Painstakingly plotted and cleverly resolved, Rimington’s novels lean more toward John le Carré than Ian Fleming; there is little of the gadgetry of James Bond. Rather, Rimington pays a great deal of attention to the procedural aspects of espionage, on balance a good tradeoff.

Let’s say you are looking for an atmospheric, nuanced mystery of the Old South, one in which antebellum history shares equal billing with, say, steamin’ humidity. Look no further: Attica Locke fills the bill brilliantly with her second novel, The Cutting Season.

The action centers on Belle Vie, a Civil War-era mansion recreated as a tourist attraction. A young migrant worker has been found in a shallow grave at the edge of the property, her throat slit. Belle Vie’s manager, Caren Gray, feels that the cops are barking up the wrong tree, suspect-wise, so she undertakes a parallel investigation of her own, along the way unearthing some new information about an old murder, one that may have ties to this latest homicide.

As is the case with author Louise Penny, Locke draws the reader into her milieu, offering a taste of history, atmosphere and character with a level of skill rarely equalled in suspense fiction. When I reviewed Locke’s first novel, Black Water Rising, I called it “nothing short of astonishing.” With The Cutting Season, she’s batting a thousand.

For the most part, Japanese suspense novelists haven’t made much of a blip on the radar in the English-speaking portions of the world; this is something of a mystery in itself, as 2 million (and counting) worldwide buyers of Keigo Higashino’s award-winning The Devotion of Suspect X can well attest. Now “Detective Galileo”—aka brainiac physicist and sometime police consultant Manabu Yukawa—and the intrepid Detective Kusanagi reunite for a second taut psychological thriller, ­Salvation of a Saint. This time out, the pair investigates the murder of Yoshitaka Mashiba, a very Agatha Christie-ish homicide crafted with arsenic-laced coffee. Easy case: The spurned wife did it, right? Not so fast; she was several hundred miles away at the time. Twists and turns abound, and there are enough red herrings for a first-rate sushi supper.

Higashino is Japan’s best-selling author, with millions of books in print. Read his two Detective Galileo books, and you will see what all the fuss is about.

When last we checked in on Jo Nesbø’s melancholic ex-cop Harry Hole (in 2011’s The Leopard), he was in Hong Kong, having more or less come to terms with his myriad demons and the loss of his lady love. There was nothing for him in his native Norway, and it seemed likely he would never return. But that was before Oleg, the boy he had come to think of as a son, was arrested for murder, a scenario that, for Harry, beggars belief.

Now, in Phantom, the erstwhile investigator is back in Oslo after a three-year absence, only to discover that everything is new—and yet everything is somehow disturbingly the same. He is still persona non grata with most of his former police associates. His one-time lover Rakel is an unknown quantity, and her son Oleg seems to have changed markedly for the worse, a casualty of “violin,” the powerful new synthetic opiate that has taken Norway’s youth by storm. Nonetheless, with or without a badge, first and foremost Harry Hole is still a cop, and that will be either his salvation or his undoing. No spoiler here: You will have to wait until the final pages to find out which. Easily the most troubling and heartfelt of this excellent series, Phantom is one of the finest suspense novels to come out of Scandinavia to date.

Copyright 2012 BookPage Reviews.

Kirkus Reviews 2012 September #1
Someone's threatening the security of the U.S. drone program, and according to MI5's best information, it seems to be a combination of--wait for it--the Russians, the North Koreans and the South Koreans. Before she ever applied to the Security Service, Liz Carlyle (Rip Tide, 2011, etc.) heard a lecture by political theorist Alexander Petrov that made a profound impression on her. Now, years after he joined Russian intelligence, he pops up in Geneva with an urgent message he's only willing to deliver to "Lees Carlisle." The message is that unauthorized outsiders have managed to breach the encryption codes of Operation Clarity, the U.S.-led program that governs the operation of drone aircraft. Already, unbeknownst to Liz or Petrov, computer jockeys in Nevada have watched in horror as one of their drones in the Mideast suddenly seemed to take on a mind of its own and ignore their commands. Naturally, Henry Pennington, Liz's sniveling contact at the Clarity Secretariat, refuses to believe that anyone could have infiltrated the agency's defenses. So Liz, seeking a clue to the real motives and identities of the conspirators, looks to Charlie Fielding, of the Ministry of Defense, and Andy Bokus, the CIA's Station Chief in London, for help. As if Liz didn't have enough on her plate already, Cathy Treglown, whose father has been keeping company with Liz's mother, is being pressed by members of the French commune she just left to cough up a serious donation to their arms-purchasing fund--unless she wants one of their thugs to go after her little boy. Considering the magnitude of the threat and the echoes of From Russia with Love and Diamonds Are Forever (the film, not the book), everything gets wrapped up suspiciously neatly, even though, as Liz sagely remarks, "I wonder if we'll ever know what this was really all about." Copyright Kirkus 2012 Kirkus/BPI Communications.All rights reserved.

Publishers Weekly Reviews 2012 July #1

Near the start of Rimington's compelling seventh Liz Carlyle novel (after 2011's Rip Tide), a Russian agent, Alexander Petrov, tells a British agent he approaches in a Swiss tennis club that he wants a meeting with "Lees Carlisle." Liz, who barely remembers the Soviet dissident she encountered at university at the time of perestroika and the collapse of the Eastern bloc, agrees to meet Petrov in a Geneva cafe, where he warns her of a cyberattack on a joint U.S./U.K. software project for controlling unmanned drone aircraft. Fearing another cold war if the attack succeeds, Petrov claims that an unknown country, not Russia, is behind the scheme. Once the Brits alert Andy Bokus, the no-nonsense head of the CIA's London office, this intelligent spy thriller is off and running. A family matter involving Liz dilutes the urgency of the primary plot somewhat, but the machinations of the intelligence business, which Rimington knows well as the former MI5 chief, fascinate. Agent: Georgina Capel. (Oct.)

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