Secret Service

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

The UK political thriller for Bodyguard fans!

Kate Henderson was thought to live in ordinary family life with her husband, Stuart and their children. She was the secret agent, working for MI6 with Rav. She had to find the Russian mole who infiltrated the UK political cabinet. 

There was the rumour that the British Prime Minister had cancer and would resign. One of the cabinet ministers, who might be the Russian mole, would succeed him. The time was against Kate as she battled to uncover the truth.

The world was unstabilised towards the crisis as the Cold War was making a comeback to haunt the generations of the 80s. Then, shocking events began to happen with some deaths, and her family was on thin ice.

I was stunned at the end of the novel, as the Russian agent was unveiled. I love this brilliant novel.


Breakaway Reviewers received a copy of the book to review
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Kate Henderson is in charge of the Russia desk at MI6, her husband is a political aide to a high profile minister and her two worlds are about to collide.  Using a tip-off Kate discovers that the Prime Minister is about to step down and one of the leading candidates is compromised.  As her husband and her source both come undersuspicion Kate has to fight through mistrust and family problems to finally confront the truth.
Most of the this book was great.  Although I'd guessed who the traitor was there were plenty of twists and turns to keep the reader hooked and Bradby definitely knows his subject.  The only disappointment was the ending which felt rather rushed and not fully developed.
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This was a fascinating spy story which almost seemed real. Great characters and a compelling storyline with a twist in the tail. Great read.
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I have no knowledge of the inside of British parliamentary politics or the machinations of MI6, so I cannot comment on the truth of this novel but it is certainly exciting and thought provoking. Kate seems to be living an ordinary suburban life with the husband, two kids and difficult mother but really she is deep in covert espionage. The plot is easy to follow but nevertheless twisty and doesn’t stretch credibility too far. 

Recommended if you’re looking for a summer read that will catch you on page 1 and keep you pinned through family turmoil, murder, intrigue and two faced people with hidden agendas... much like our current system. Mr Bradby is a journalist who probably knows of what he speaks so you’re in safe hands.

I was given a copy of this book by Netgalley in return for an honest review.
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Intriguing spy novel that concentrates as much on the lead characters home life as the more usual espionage theme in this genre. A clever mix of wait and see with sudden graphic violence keeps the pace ticking along. Lots of red herrings, everyone a potential suspect in the "hunt the traitor game"a lot of racing about Europe at a moments notice all build to a not surprising conclusion! Reasonable yarn but nothing special.
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I suppose I shouldn't be surprised given the author's background but this is so topical and ,frankly , quite believable.
The main character ,Kate Henderson,is a senior MI6 officer in charge of the Russian desk.She is also a wife and mother with two teenage(say no more ) children- so trying to juggle work and home life with the added complication of the danger her job entails and it having to take priority at a moments notice. To add to the mix she also has a rather difficult mother .
She follows a tip off that there's to be a meeting of three high-ranking Russians on board the yacht of a Russian oligarth and mounts a covert operation .An illegal immigrant is recruited to apply for the position of nanny and plant a microphone on board .
The tapes reveal that the British Prime Minister is to step down as battling prostrate cancer, that one of the leading candidates could be under the influence of the Russians and that their success would be secured through the actions of a mole - Viper.
When Kate takes this information to her immediate boss - Ian Grainger - he refuses to accept the possibility,seeking to discredit her source and putting it down to disinformation..He doesn't like Kate and is resentful of the fact that she is considered to be the favourite for the role of head of MI6 - a position he thinks is his by right.
Alan Brabazon -  the current head - on the other hand ,trusts her instincts and is inclined to let her run with it .
So the plot unfolds with lots of twists and turns and a couple more bodies en route..Fast moving,quite compelling,a really good read.
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Headline : Topical and Gripping
This is a topical story centring on Russian meddling in foreign elections and encompassing their apparent willingness to conduct overseas operations with blatant disregard for the consequences.
Kate Henderson is a high level MI6 operative with home and work pressures that explode in quite devastating fashion.  In this era of Donald Trump and suspicions of covert Russian influence over politicians this book follows the course of similar allegations in the UK. 
I found myself keen to find out what happened next and devoured the book in a very short time indeed. I suspect others will find themselves similarly engaged. 
This book was provided as an advance copy by the publisher in return for an honest review.
Note : 
I posted the above review on Amazon 8 June 2019.
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An intelligent novel for our times, well written and researched. An intriguing insight into the inner working of MI 6, with the central character Kate, who is otherwise a happy family person.  The challenges she and her colleagues encounter on a daily basis, whilst endeavouring to ensure the safety and security of the public, are many and varied and related in this excellent read. I really enjoyed this book.
My thanks to the publisher and a Netgalley for my advance copy.
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I love a good spy story and this is one of the best I have read in a long time. I have not read any of Tom Bradby’s books before but I would definitely read him again.  Without giving anything away I did not see the ending of the book coming which to me is a great read.  Kate and Stuart lead very difficult lives in the world of government and the secret service as well as bringing up a family.  I felt that on reading this book I cannot imagine how one lives their lives in this sort of world and that is a true testament to a good story which weaves in and out of one drama after another.  It was interesting to feel through the story of how people in the high echelons of our world get through their day to day lives with looking after our world and I feel the story really captured what I guess is the way it all works.  It is intriguing to think that all the spy “stuff” is portrayed correctly which I guess is difficult to comprehend in our world but is life of our century.  Great book and I felt it was most enlightening.  All good stuff
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I've never seen Line of Duty, nor have I seen Bodyguard; nor had I heard of Jed Mercurio.

I have, however, now heard of Tom Bradby, and based on what I read through Secret Service I can safely say: I'll very much be reading more of him.

I believe, based on the hype of the aforementioned TV series' and associated writer, that Tom has written his calling for a similar garnering of hype for a potential adapted-to-TV series from this latest novel; the novel itself being an excellent piece of superbly-written spider-web weaving and unravelling spy excitement.

Tom has a way of staying concisely thorough with his characters' personality traits and characteristics while portraying each of them with a delicate amount of angst, emotion, intelligence, and maturity; all this while taking on the colossal task of writing the protagonist's professional responsibilities, alongside the additional responsibilities of being a woman, a wife, a mother, a daughter (including the familial woes of marriage, parental care through mental-illness, teenage rebellion, etc).

All this with a healthy dose of humour to keep the balance, the storyline regarding the family pet (or Kate's pet), is to note here.

Political sex-scandals and suspicious murders follow suit.

All round, a genuinely brilliant novel; a much loved potential classic.

Life or Land? Checkmate.

I'll be very much keeping an eye on Tom Bradby from here on in...

Notes for ARC-copy: Page 324 - letter-spacing; minor spelling/grammatical errors on some pages.
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Secret Service by Tom Bradby

Kate Henderson has a lot on her plate. She’s got a full family life with two teenage children and a mother stricken by dementia, who also happens to be an extremely unpleasant woman. And then there’s the busy job, which involves a great deal of travel, often at short notice. For Kate is a senior officer in Britain’s Secret Service, M16, with responsibility for the Russia desk. A tip off has sent her and her small team to Turkey where it is believed that some of the most important members of Russia’s own secret service are gathering on a yacht. Kate has recruited someone to plant a bug on that yacht and what they overhear throws the UK and Russia back into the freeze of a cold war. They hear that the British Prime Minister is about to resign through ill health and that one of the candidates in his Cabinet is a Russian agent. As if this isn’t bad enough, this also tells Kate that there is a mole in M16. But who is it?

I love spy thrillers and I really liked the sound of this one. Tom Bradby is a journalist and author who now presents the ITV News at Ten. He definitely knows his stuff but, just as important as that, he really knows how to tell a good story. Secret Service is a brilliantly clever and thrilling read from start to finish. For some reason, perhaps because I’ve visited and like the country very much indeed, I particularly enjoy spy thrillers with a Russian element. They might be traditional but Tom Bradby shows here that this long-held friction still continues – and suspicions that Russia’s secret service has meddled in elections are extremely topical. And then there’s the matter of a British Prime Minister resigning, resulting in a leadership battle… that sounds rather familiar. Secret Service is undoubtedly a topical and timely thriller.

Kate Henderson is very much at the centre of the novel. She’s not presented as some cold, calculating spy master. Kate is a fully rounded human being, a woman who has to juggle family and work, with all of the guilt and demands that this entails. We spend time with Kate’s family as she has to deal with troublesome kids, a really nasty mother, and a husband who is accommodating and caring but has a pressing job of his own. Kate’s job involves a lot of soul searching as well as sacrifice. She has to decide how far she is prepared to go to protect her country, to do her job. How much will she risk? Who is she prepared to endanger? And how will she live with the consequences? The novel is full of personal stories and Kate is responsible for the lives of many of these people. It’s an engrossing and involving novel.

In a spy thriller you want puzzles, action and (as you’d expect) thrills. Secret Service provides all of these. On top of this there’s politics and the ambition of senior politicians, not to mention the ambition of Kate’s immediate superiors at M16. There is intense rivalry across the board and Kate is caught somewhere in the middle. Secret Service is intricately plotted, tense and full of menace, and at its centre is a very appealing, likeable character who has to make the most difficult of decisions, each of which has consequences. If I had a recipe of what I would put into a spy thriller, Secret Service has the lot.
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Secret Service was a really cleverly executed story to try and discover who was the double or even triple agent leaking intel from MI6 to muddy the waters in to an investigation as to whether a future PM had Russian leanings.
The culprit was fairly easy to guess early on but so much obfuscation within the story made one question one’s judgment. I really liked the character ‘Kate’ but thought she wasn’t very professional for a top ranking officer but her unprofessionalism made the story what it was.
Minor niggles…. The supposed ease of setting up multi camera surveillance in foreign climes? Almost impossible based upon equipment size, portability, power output, terrain / building shielding and available frequencies. The same goes for a bug in a ship but maybe the vessel was fibreglass? At least it was conceded that the mirophone wasn’t well placed.
A dacha without electricity has a gramophone? OK it’s a wind-up but the records wouldn’t be vinyl, they’d be shellac.
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I recognised the authors name but wasn’t till looked him up realised who he was and saw he has had published quite a few books 
Well this is one is a corker!
If you imagine every element needed to make a modern spy thriller then its in this book
Its SO current it deals with a Prime Minister having to stand down and the potential winners of a leadership race to replace him!!!! 
No mention of Brexit in this book though as this story deals with Russian involvement in the race and that one of the contenders has been compromised
I loved all the characters from spies to Govt officials and Kate, the main character, was ruthless when needed but also had a gentle, human side
The action starts on page 1 and carries on right through to the very WOW ending where you will have to re read a few lines to make sure you have just read what you think you have!!!!
Uncannily current and a fast, furious and explosive read, I loved every page and quite happily would have read another 357 pages
My only small niggle is the authors very vocal anti Russia sentiment in the book, it didnt spoil it at all but was obvious his thoughts throughout!
As exciting as the Bodyguard, thoroughly enjoyable, well written, satisfying and left me wanting to read all his previous books! 
10/10 5 Stars
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‘We should make a TV series of this,’ Julie said. ‘Kind of like Gogglebox, but marginally less compelling. The real work of SIS: watching paint dry.’ - characters in ‘Secret Service’ while on surveillance duty.

My thanks to Random House U.K. Transworld Publishers for an eARC via NetGalley of Tom Bradby’s spy thriller ‘Secret Service’ in exchange for an honest review.

In terms of the story Kate Henderson is a senior officer in MI6 and is in receipt of intelligence that the Russians are planning more than meddling in our elections via social media. They appear not only aware that the current British PM is about to step down due to health issues but have plans to replace him with someone who is effectively a Russian asset. Oh dear! Kate is married with children and so has to balance these aspects of her life with an extremely demanding career.

As I feel it is best to read thrillers without too much information beforehand, this is all I will say.

Certainly this novel delivers in terms of modern-day intelligence service tradecraft. It is fast paced with quite a few twists and red herrings. Given how we have entered a new era of Cold War with Russia it is very topical. 

Kate is a very likeable protagonist: certainly a professional who is cool and collected in a crises and even ruthless when called to be yet remains very human. She is loyal to her team and clearly loves her family.

This is my first experience of Tom Bradby’s fiction though I expect not my last. There is certainly action though this novel is more in George Smiley territory than James Bond (both these fictional spies are briefly referenced). 

Overall I found it an engaging, very readable novel. The big question for me now is will there be a ‘Secret Service 2”? I rather hope so as there certainly seems scope for more from Kate and her team especially given the times we are living in.
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I enjoyed this spy thriller, following Kate, the head of the Russia desk for MI6, in a race to discover who is the Russian spy in their midst trying to influence the election of a new prime minister. We follow Kate's investigations across Europe, the highs and lows, her relationships with her team and the impact on her family. 
There are a few leaps of faith in the investigation but overall this is an enjoyable, gripping story with enough twists and turns to keep you turning the page. Thank you to NetGalley for my advance copy.
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An exemplary read! Thrilling, exciting, gripping ... and all the more scary because it's totally realistic in today's world.

Kate Henderson is similar to thousands of other working mothers; she juggles childcare with her husband Stuart and often deals with office issues during her off-the-clock hours and vice-versa. However, Kate's job is a bit different to most of us; she is a senior MI6 officer and often has to travel far and wide at a moment's notice. When intelligence sourced by Kate's team turns out to be true, it appears that they have not only someone in government with leanings towards Russia but also a mole in their own building which racks ups the responsibility and the tension both at work and at home.

This is an absorbing and awe-inspiring read! I was riveted from first to last, reading it all in a day - well, in all honesty there was no way I could fall asleep last evening without knowing how it was all going to play out. We are all well aware that there are dirty dealings behind closed government doors and this is an entirely believable scenario with powerful characters and a page-turning narrative. Tom Bradby creates an original, observant and highly memorable novel which I have relished and it certainly puts him on my 'must-read' list of authors. I cannot recommend this one highly enough - it's a well-paced, unforgettable and wholly unpredictable read, earning a full five shiny golden stars!

My thanks to publishers Random House for my copy via NetGalley. This is my honest, original and unbiased review.
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Secret Service is the first book written by Tom Bradby that I have read and it is a very good engaging spy thriller.

As you would expect there are numerous twists and turns along with some red herrings to make you doubt yourself. 

The story is well paced albeit the ending slightly too contrived and predictable

Overall I would recommend it
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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.

I received a copy of this book from Random House UK - Transworld Publishing via NetGalley in return for an honest review.
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Secret Service is one hell of a spy thriller which makes other espionage fiction look rather lame. Bradby crafts a race-against-time novel with a plot exploring the long-term tensions between Russia and the UK, Russian interference in British elections and the fact that Russian moles and spies will likely have infiltrated many of our important British institutions just as we will have spies in Russia and elsewhere. The plot is scarily realistic and is not beyond the realms of possibility making it all the more terrifying. The fact that Bradby is a former political editor lends authenticity to the narrative and roots it deep in the reality of our current political situation.

It's a fast-paced, easy read which plays perfectly on the fears of both the political establishment and the general population. Moving between rich, vivid locations we follow protagonist Kate who begins a covert investigation into corruption in the top-levels of the UK government but her conflicting loyalties creep into her head rather a lot. It's certainly a high-octane, high-stakes story full of palpable tension which builds and builds beautifully. There are some parallels that can be drawn between some of the cast here and those currently in the real-world political spotlight. I suspect that was intentional on Bradby's part. 

It's an intense, gritty and topical thriller which has been a long time in the making. So was it worth the wait? ABSOLUTELY. Kate is a very likeable and relatable character who has to juggle family life with the need to drop everything at a moments notice to attend to work responsibilities. There are twists and turns aplenty and the author uses red herrings and misdirection to trick the reader into backing the wrong horse. The ending wraps things up nicely in a satisfying fashion and is the perfect way to conclude the heart-pounding suspense delivered through the entirety of the book. Many thanks to Bantam Press for an ARC.
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This is my first encounter with Tom Brady's writings, and what a pleasant surprise it was. By chance, the subject matter is incredibly timely in the way it weaves a highly credible story around Russian meddling in the election of the leader of an unspecified political party who would immediately become prime minister, if elected. The author has constructed a detailed storyline around this fundamental theme that also involves the domestic setting, partner and children of the lead character in a way that seems entirely natural and relevant. For readers looking for a thriller edge to the plot there is also action aplenty, as well as enough false leads to keep the reader guessing for most of the book. The writing is generally fluent and easy to read; indeed, the temptation to read 'just one more chapter' is hard to resist. The only mild criticism from this reader would be the less than secure use of dialogue between characters, which - at times - required an excessive degree of care to track who was speaking as a conversation developed. Perfecting this aspect of writing  is is an art that the best novelists manage with seeming ease, and may require a little further attention. However, this is not sufficient to warrant anything below a 'highly recommended' verdict.
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