Close Call – Stella Rimington – Book Review


Goodreads blurb: The Arab Spring has swept through the Middle East and Liz Carlyle and her compatriots in the Thames House’s counter-espionage division are racing to investigate arms deals in Yemen. There’s a UN embargo forbidding any member country from supplying arms to either side in the uprisings, but Andy Bokus, head of the CIA’s London Station, has evidence that the weapons being smuggled into Yemen are not only being sold to both sides, but are coming from a connection in the UK—a highly embarrassing black mark on the government and, if true, full of disastrous consequences.

British-American cooperation widens as Liz teams up with her old rival Bruno McKay, MI6’s Head of Station in Paris, and Isobel Florian of the French domestic service, the DCRI, to trail and trap the elusive weapons dealer. The evidence points to a former French intelligence officer, Antoine Milraud, who leads them all on a mad chase across Europe until investigators witness him passing something to an elegantly dressed, very mysterious man.

When Milraud is caught and informs on his fellow conspirators, Liz finds herself embroiled in a larger, potentially explosive situation that twists all the way back to what she feared most—that the arms are being sold through the UK, and the mysterious man is closer and more capable of brutal violence than she ever could have imagined.


As the blurb reads, the world is a changed place after The Arab Spring, and more and more weapons are finding themselves in the wrong hands. This puts the entire world’s intelligence agencies into top gear and they are constantly on the lookout for the suppliers and the middlemen for all these weapon deals. And when the CIA sniffs a faint whiff of a British supplier this sets in motion the action of this particular novel.

Headed by Liz Carlyle from MI6 who teams up with her compatriots from France and the US, the team painstakingly unearths bits and pieces of evidence one by one and pretty soon are convinced that there are bigger plans afoot than was originally envisaged. And to complicate things even further, the entire action seems closer home in the UK than they initially thought it to be. Soon, the team is racing against time, resources and at the same time battling demons from an earlier time in the form of old partners who have gone over to the other side as well.

Does this team comprising of probably the best intelligence agencies of the world manage to unravel the plot of the bad guys? Or do the bad guys manage to pull a number on them? The answers to these questions form the crux of this well written novel.

An intelligence agency ‘procedural’, for lack of a better word, this book is not your standard guns-girls-action guide to espionage and terrorist hunting. The author instead draws on her real world experiences as an ex-boss of MI6 and gives readers a ringside view of the painfully slow and long drawn process of intelligence gathering, analysis, planning and finally acting on the intelligence gathered. And this is what makes this book vastly different from almost all other books that I have read in this genre. And this is also what makes this book immensely readable as well.

Although this is the eighth book in the Liz Carlyle series, I can confidently say that this can very easily be read as a standalone book (like I did) without the danger of missing out on any ‘historical baggage’ that the earlier books in this series might have carried over. So, what are you waiting for? Go ahead and purchase the book from Flipkart [Link] or Amazon [Link].


A review copy of this book was provided to me by the publishers in return for an honest and unbiased review of the same.

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