Secret Service

Pub Date:   |   Archive Date: 07 Jun 2019

Member Reviews

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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I hovered between three and four stars on this. It’s a really solid U.K. secret service thriller which isn’t all action, action, action - it cuts between action scenes in lovely locations, intrigue at MI6 HQ and domestic life for the main protagonist, Kate. Having received a tip off about a possible agent at the highest levels of British government, she has to make some very hard decisions on how to investigate this  against conflicting loyalties. 

Given this is written by someone who was a political editor, it’s no surprise the plot and action come across as rooted in reality.  I just was a bit unsure over some of the dialogue, which seemed a bit clunky in places. Overall a good plot though, and having read it as a real life leadership campaign plays out, you might see some resonance with some of the characters.
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Tom Bradby knows how to tell a good story and this one is no exception. It's a highly topical novel revolving around Russian attempts to infiltrate the election of a new Prime Minister in the UK and the discovery of a Russian informant in the highest ranks of the British government machine. It is fast paced, the settings are authentic and it provides an easy, entertaining read.

Kate Henderson is the MI6 secret agent drawn into unravelling this case, while being played by both sides and trying to make sense of conflicting stories. She is an interesting character because she's corrupted by her job as much as anyone else would be. She solicits the services of a young girl in a rather unpleasant way who, later, comes to an even more unpleasant end. Her working partner dies along the way as well. She has a husband Stuart and two fairly dysfunctional but normal teenage children. She seems to do this awful job because of a dreadful and unresolved relationship with her mother or, perhaps, Tom Bradby was just getting back at one of his relatives!

Kate’s husband Stuart is one of those shadowy people trapped between being a civil servant and an adviser, in his case to the ambitious Secretary of State for Education who is in the field for the top job. In many ways, Stuart seems to be a long-suffering partner as Kate is often away globetrotting on intelligence gathering missions which she seems to achieve on minimal sleep. If I wrote this book there would probably be two pages covering my journey on the Heathrow Express, the flight, whether or not she had an expensive seat, and how hard it was to get any sleep but Kate just rolls up in Greece or somewhere fresh as a daisy and starts monitoring people.

Once they start trying to find the mole in the government, in this case code-named Viper, the book goes all George Smiley on us. It certainly seems possible that the secret services could be run at the highest level by chaps who shared dorms at minor public schools but you might have to wonder how some of these ever got promoted! Anyway, as you can imagine there are lots of loose ends to tidy up, there are cul-de-sacs and the wrong people get suspected. Several more people die as well.

I'm not giving away the ending but the book is all resolved quite tidily. As a detached observer and reader, I got the impression that the Russians were a bit cleverer than MI6 but, perhaps, that was because they were even more unscrupulous! With a Conservative leadership election in the offing, it is easy to imagine how various foreign powers might have videos of some of those individuals,or be able to bankroll their complicity. In some ways, it wouldn't even seem unlikely, and you never know how many of those blue rinsed Conservative party loyal members might also have been signed up by SMERSH once upon a time after some indiscretion on a Yugoslavian package holiday. Read this book on the beach and you'll know who not to trust!
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An excellent read- full of the grit of everyday (!) spy life- the dull, non-glamorous and frankly downright boring parts of monitoring suspicious people are really well described and make the whole story eminently more believable than a Bond-esque super spy, gun-toting situation!
Kate's very real struggle between family and family life and her responsibilities at work and the need to leave the country at a moments notice make her a very likable character and one you get behind from very early on.
As the plot thickens and more and more suspects come to light the author cleverly misdirects suspicions around multiple characters, keeping the suspense going right until the big reveal.
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Author Tom Bradby is a highly respected British journalist, screenwriter, and anchorman on ITV news here in the UK. It’s a long time since his last novel, but boy was ‘Secret Service’ worth waiting for!

Kate Henderson is a senior intelligence officer based at the London headquarters of the Special Intelligence Service, otherwise known as MI6. When the Prime Minister suddenly announces his resignation due to ill health, Kate believes she has discovered a plot to infiltrate British politics, and place a Prime Minister with pro Putin leanings, right at the heart of British Government. The secret agent trying to bring about this major coup is codenamed ‘Viper ‘.

Kate’s boss, Ian Granger is sceptical about what she’s discovered, he’s not a fan of hers, and he prefers to see it as ‘her paranoia’, but Head of MI6, Sir Alan Brabazon also known as (C) decides to allow Kate to follow up on her suspicions and gather evidence, and that doesn’t go down well with Granger. The problem though, is whether the intel she’s receiving is actually genuine, or is it just another game of cat and mouse and interference in the democratic process that the Russians appear to enjoy so much. 

Besides this huge responsibility in MI6 and the evident dangers that it carries, Kate also has to juggle her family life and that helps give the novel extra depth - there’s her Civil Servant husband Stuart, her estranged mother Lucy, now in a care home with dementia, and fractious teenagers Fiona and Gus.

I won’t go into detail with this one as it’s a pretty complex storyline, but this is a geopolitical thriller at its best. It’s fast paced, exciting, filled with unbearable tension, and red herrings are used to maximum effect, keeping the reader guessing right up to the last page, and just to add to the intrigue, the aptly named Russian agent ‘Viper’ most definitely has a killer bite, the venom spreading far and wide. Highly recommended.
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I read Tom Bradbury’s latest offering the week of Theresa May’s resignation. I joked with friends on various whatsapp groups that the Russians will have a hand in whoever the next leader is. I owe my remark (which was well received!) to Bradbury’s brilliantly believable thriller Secret Service.

I had no idea of his career as an author. It is just as well. Many of us have, entirely unjustified, pre-conceived opinions of high profile individuals who carve out  a successful career in another field. 

This is a cracking read which I raced through. The plot revolves around uncovering a mole in British government and the British security services. You won’t guess who it is – I didn’t.  Bradbury spares no mercy with his characters either. 

Bradbury deserves all the praise I suspect will come his way. I salute his talent at crafting a plausible female character in Kate Henderson. 

This is a fantastically well-written thriller with an uncomfortably plausible plot. Bravo Sir.
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A great read! Pacy and plausible, I was hooked from the start. Well rounded characters, some of whom I got to like. Well supported with visual description and suspense. It kept me guessing until the end and unlike many page turners there was no sense of anti climax at the end. An author I am delighted to have discovered and one who I have no doubt will succeed!
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I totally, completely and unexpectedly loved this book. In fact I'm devastated I'm finished it, bugger. Bradby doesn't seem to do series and that's a shame as is definitely go for more actin from Kate. This its definitely one for your holiday pile expect to be gripped!
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I enjoyed this swift paced novel by Tom Bradby who is obviously familiar with the background and intrigues of political life. The characters were well defined and the twists and turns of the plot kept my interest right up to the ultimate betrayal
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Another writer new to me - and now another writer whose back catalogue I will have to devour. This was an excellent and topical spy thriller bang up to date in terms of the current political machinations.

The plot has been covered elsewhere by other reviewers and I do not wish to provide any spoilers, but it is credible and well constructed and the excitement is palpable. I read it in a couple of days and it is perfect summer holiday reading by a writer at the top of his game.
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Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read this book in return for a review. Tom Bradbury has written an amazing political thriller and I am sure it will be picked up and made into a mini-series like the body guard.
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Whilst, not something I would usually read, I was gripped throughout and will definitely be on the lookout for more from this author in the future
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A spy mystery with topical touches 

The British Prime Minister resigns suddenly due to ill health. There are two main contenders to replace him: Imogen Conrad, Foreign Affairs Minister and James Ryan, the Foreign Secretary. Kate Henderson of the British Secret Intelligence Service and her sidekick, Rav, become involved when one of the contenders is suspected of spying.

The character of Kate was the best part of the book for me. She's a well-rounded character, ruthless at work, popular with her team, vulnerable in her private life. Happily married to Stuart, who works for Imogen Conrad, the couple have a teenage daughter. Kate is determined not to repeat her mother's unfaithfulness. But does Stuart share this ethic?

Kate recruits young illegal immigrant Lena to act as a mole, posing as a nanny on a luxury yacht belonging to the ex chief of Russia's Secret Service in order to plant a listening device.
They find evidence of Russian involvement in the up-coming British election, via a mole at senior level in either the British government or MI5/6. I enjoyed the topical references to the recent Salisbury incident, in which a woman died after allegedly spraying toxic 'perfume 'on herself which had been intended for two Russian defectors. 

Unfortunately, the story became too complicated for me and I literally 'lost the plot'! The ending was predictable too. Shame, as it started well and Bradby clearly knows his subject.
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Tom Bradby in  this book gives us a very plausible  story involving MI6 and the Russians. Kate Henderson is a senior officer on the Russia desk in MI6 and finds herself in a chase against time to discover who, amongst the candidates to replace the prime minister - forced to retire through illness - is "in the pocket" of the Russians. As if this is not enough there is also a mole, nicknamed "the Viper" seemingly planted amongst her colleagues. Kate's battle to find the answers puts her in danger as well as exposing her family to threats. A fast-paced and eminently readable novel.
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Oh dear, I just could not get into this at all and, admiring the writer as a journalist and broadcaster, I really did want to, but found the characterisation lacking and the whole thing poor compared to for example, the superb books of Stella Rimington, which are far superior in every aspect.
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I read this book in virtually one sitting as I really didn’t want to miss any of the twists and turns. How wonderful to have a female protagonist but also to have one that it’s possible to care about. Highly recommended.
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Thanks Netgalley/publishers for the e-arc and the chance to read the book Secret Service.  I haven't read any of Tom's books before, so this was an excellent introduction. 

It's a  really exciting fast paced espionage adventure with a  twist. The main character Kate is a wife and mother and trying to balance family life with her job. She's trying to figure out who the perpetrators are, while  tracking foreign agents, politics and avoiding assassins, with many ups and downs along the way.

You're also kept guessing until the very end.

I could imagine this book being turned into a short tv series and feel it would be very well received.

A very enjoyable read and I would recommend to everyone who enjoys a thriller.  I'll definitely look out for Bradby's other books.
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