The world is on the brink of crisis. The Cold War is playing out once more on the global stage. And governments will do whatever it takes to stay at the top . . .
To those who don’t really know her, Kate Henderson’s life must seem perfectly ordinary. But she is, in fact, a senior MI6 officer, who right now is nursing the political equivalent of a nuclear bomb.
Kate’s most recent mission has yielded the startling intelligence that the British Prime Minister has cancer – and that one of the leading candidates to replace him may be a Russian agent of influence.
Up against the clock to uncover the Russian mole, Kate risks everything to get to the truth. But with her reputation to uphold, her family hanging by a thread and a leadership election looming, she is quickly running out of options, and out of time.
I received a copy of this book from Random House UK – Transworld Publishers via NetGalley in return for an honest review,
They say if you live long enough, everything returns, or at least reinvents itself in a contemporary format. The ‘Cold War’ returns in ‘Secret Service’, set in the present day. This is less about checkpoints and walls, and more about social media exploitation, and global corporations influencing domestic economies and the political agenda and players.
Kate is a senior MI6 officer, part of the Russian desk, but also a mother, wife and daughter, she is the new breed of secret service personnel and faces the 21st-century battle familiar to every professional woman of balancing their work and home life.The inherent danger in Kate’s profession is something she tries to minimise, but when she discovers a political time bomb, the danger to her family seems inevitable.
Believable and complex characters, particularly Kate, her partner and her immediate team, spearhead this action-packed, suspenseful story, which visits the political hot spots, as Kate tries to discover which politician is the probable Russian asset, and who in her own organisation is the double agent…
The suspects are few, but the propensity for misinformation is vast, and as the conspiracy deepens, Kate realises she is vulnerable and may lose everything she holds dear.
Authentically detailed with a contemporary political agenda and background, you can see this being a realistic scenario. The ending is menacing and will be unexpected for most.
Adrenaline-fueled, atmospheric and authentic, this is a riveting read, for anyone who enjoys political thrillers and the secret world of spies.
The town of Little Woodford seems
peaceful and picture-postcard beautiful, with its marketplace, ancient church
and immaculate allotments. But behind the tranquil facade, troubles are
Olivia Lewthwaite, a former town councillor, a pillar of the WI and all-around busybody, has been forced by her husband’s gambling debts to sell their house – her pride and joy. She hates the new estate they’ve moved to and knows she needs to humble herself to apply for a job.
To make matters worse, a thoroughly disagreeable woman has bought Olivia’s beloved Grange and sets about objecting to everything she can, from the ringing of the church bells to the market stall selling organic local meat.
I received a copy of this book from Head of Zeus via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
If you love small town values and interactions, ‘The Bells of Little Woodford’, will appeal. The second book in the series, it reads well as a standalone, but it’s such a lovely series, read my review of ‘Little Woodford – The Secrets of a Small Town’ and enjoy this too.
Olivia, is coming to terms with her fall from grace, too involved in everyone else’s business and the town’s many organisations, her own family took second place, and now she has to pick up the pieces.
Losing her home is part of the price she has to pay, but the new owners seem determined to disrupt and dismantle everything important to the town unless someone stops them.
This story has a comforting, realistic ethos, the characters, values and peccadillos of the town, and it’s residents are recognisable and make this an enjoyable book to read. The plot is simple, but it reflects ordinary life in a small town. Coupled with the complex, easy to like or dislike characters this story is a wonderful escape.
Grab yourself a cup of tea, a slice of homemade cake and wallow in the camaraderie, gossip and ordinariness of Little Woodford.
Guest Post – Catherine Jones – The inspiration behind Little Woodford
‘Write what you know’ is the advice people give to authors. That suits me fine as I’m not a fan of doing research – I’d rather just get on with telling the story. Which is why many of my previous books have an army theme as I was in the army myself, I married a soldier and I am the mother of one. Twenty-five years ago my husband left the forces and we moved to a little middle-England market town, not far from Oxford and where we have lived ever since. I love this town with a passion: it has everything a town could want; three supermarkets, several churches, a weekly market, cricket, tennis and rugby clubs, a bustling high street, a nature reserve, a theatre and seven – yes, seven – pubs! In fact, I love this place so much I’m on the town council. When it was suggested to me I ought to write about the lives of ordinary people and the kind of stuff that goes on behind their front doors – the stuff you might not want your neighbours to know about – I instantly knew exactly where I would set my story. If you know my town, it is pretty recognisable as all the elements are there – with the exception that Little Woodford only has one pub. Of course, as an author, I have to be immensely careful to make sure that everyone in the book is completely fictitious but that hasn’t stopped many of the locals asking me if this or that character isn’t actually based on X or Y. The one character that I haven’t been asked about is Olivia Laithwaite, one of the main protagonists; she’s a councillor, rides a bike, is a bit of a busy-body, likes to know what’s going on and has several children. I’m not saying Olivia and I are clones, but there are a lot of people in the town who are!
Extract From The Bells of Little Woodford – Catherine Jones
waved goodbye to the boys – both engrossed in chatting to their mates in their
lines and both oblivious of her farewell – before she made her way out of the
playground and began to head down the hill towards the centre of the town and
her house. As she turned onto the main road she glanced across it to her friend
Olivia’s vast barn conversion. The estate agent’s shingle, hammered into the
front lawn, announced that it was ‘sold subject to contract’. Olivia must be
moving out soon. Bex paused and thought for a second about the mess her house
was in and how she ought to be dealing with that… sod it, the mess could wait.
Checking for traffic, she crossed the road then scrunched up the gravel drive.
She hadn’t seen Olivia for weeks and she might well want a hand if she was in
the middle of packing up. To offer some help was the least Bex could do for her
friend – after all, when Bex had been swamped by her own unpacking, and Olivia
had been a complete stranger, she’d come to introduce herself to the new arrival
in town and ended up spending the evening with Bex, helping to unpack and
organise the kitchen. When Bex had first met Olivia she hadn’t been sure she
was going to like her. It had been obvious from the start that she was somewhat
bossy and opinionated and, with her blonde bob and skirt-blouse-and-court-shoe
apparel, she looked every inch the town busybody she so obviously was. But she
was a doer and grafter and, even more than that, she was kind. And when Olivia
had discovered that her public-school son had a drug habit and her husband had
gambled away their life savings, her dignity in the face of such a crisis had
been admirable. She was even making the best of having to sell up her ‘forever’
home to stop the family from going bankrupt. Bex was very fond of her.
rang the doorbell and waited patiently for it to be answered. She was slightly
taken aback when it was opened by Olivia’s son, Zac.
Zac – no school?’
Anselm’s doesn’t go back till next week,’ he told her.
Hello, Bex,’ called Olivia from the other side of the monstrous sitting room. She was busy wrapping up an ornament in newspaper. ‘Long time no see. How are you?’ She pushed a stray lock of hair off her face. ‘Zac, be a love and put the kettle on.’
loped off into the kitchen area on the far side of the room, skirting piles of
cardboard boxes and a massive roll of bubble wrap.
Anselm’s always gets a bonkers amount of holidays,’ said Olivia. ‘It seems to
me that the more you pay for a child’s education, the less time he spends in
not quantity,’ contradicted Zac over the gush of the tap as he filled the
raised an eyebrow. ‘I don’t think your last year’s exam results back up that
well…’ The back of Zac’s neck glowed pink. He flicked the kettle on. ‘I’ll take
Oscar out for a walk if you two are going to talk.’ He grabbed his dog’s lead
and whistled. Oscar, a black and white border collie, bounded out of his basket
and headed for the front door.
they’d left, Olivia crossed the room herself and got a couple of mugs out of
it all going?’ asked Bex, following her.
The move, paying off Nigel’s debts or Zac’s recovery from drugs?’ Olivia
sweetie…’ Bex gave Olivia a hug. ‘I’m sorry.’
gave her a thin smile. ‘Don’t be. Honestly, we’re getting there. Zac’s fine –
still clean – and I think I should be grateful he’s sowed his wild oats in a
safe little place like this and that the guy who supplied him with all the
drugs is doing time in nick and out of the picture. Without him around I think
the chances of Zac backsliding are pretty slim although I don’t think he will
anyway – he’s learned his lesson. I dread to think what would have happened if
he’d got addicted at uni where he’d have been just another anonymous junkie
murmured Bex. That’s one way to look at things, she supposed.
Nigel’s debts will be cleared once we’ve got the money for this place and move
into our new home.’
fortnight if all goes according to plan.’
you know who’s bought this?’
Olivia shook her head. ‘Not a clue – to be honest, I don’t want to know. The estate agent handled all the viewings and Nigel’s dealt with the paperwork. I… I…’ She stopped. ‘I found it all a bit upsetting.’
reached out and squeezed her friend’s arm.
Catherine Jones lives in Thame, where she is an
independent Councillor. She is the author of eighteen novels, including the
Soldiers’ Wives series, which she wrote under the pseudonym Fiona Field.