Kate Henderson is a senior MI6 officer who heads up the Russian desk for the British organization. We meet her at a point where she is acting on a tip that the Russians have a high-level spy working at a level guaranteed that he or she will be privy to important information that could do enormous harm to Great Britain. Acting on the tip received, she is trying to get a young girl to take a job on the yacht that is indicated to be sailing with an important Russian official. If his talks are recorded, it would be possible to ascertain who the spy is in the British government. She uses the ploy with the girl she wants to go onboard the yacht that she and her sister, who are attempting to enter England as immigrants, would be guaranteed their residency.
Unfortunately, the girl’s identity is discovered, and she is murdered. Kate is galvanized into raising the level of the search for the mole in the government. At one point Kate herself is thought of as possibly being the mole along with several other people also suspected of being the spy.
The novel moves to cover her search and reactions of both herself and her assistants. Very well done and very engrossing. One of the features used by Bradby in bringing his characters to life is the descriptions of both Kate and her assistant’s private life. These become real people experiencing strains in their personal lives as well as the pressure of doing their jobs. Kate is married, has two children, a girl who is the complicated age of 15 going on 25 and who has encountered her first boyfriend. The boy’s demeanor is not to Kate nor her husband’s liking. There is also a son looking to find his direction in the world. Kate has the misfortune of having an overbearing mother that never misses the opportunity to downgrade her daughter. Her family is very important to her but so is her job, and the conflicts involved are well handled by the author.
The search for the mole is the crux of the matter, and the reader is kept appraised of the investigation into capturing him along with both the family and her job’s pressures. The ending is well done but would seem to rule out any further novels featuring Kate Henderson and her assistants on the MI6 Russian desk. On the other hand, the treatment by the author of this book would certainly indicate future books done as well as this one.
11/19 Paul Lane
SECRET SERVICE by Tom Bradby. Bantam Press; First Edition, First Printing edition (2019). ISBN 978-1787632035. 368p.