Secret Service Book Review

Secret Service Book Review

Title: Secret Service
Author: Tom Bradby
Published: November 5, 2019, Atlantic Monthly Press
No. of Pages: 368
Cover Price: $26.00 Hardcover, $14.99 Kindle

Kate Henderson is an English spy. But she has a husband and children and doesn’t consider her job any different than that of any other working mom. Kate’s husband, Stuart, is involved in British politics, and with an election coming up for Prime Minister, he is almost as busy as she is. Kate relies on Stuart to help with the kids and house. Right now, Kate is involved in a case where Russians are causing havoc with the British election, as well as other major issues, like spying on them and killing British spies. It seems that every time Kate seems to be making progress on her mission, something happens to mess it up – it’s just like there is a mole in her team. Her boss sees that, and pushes Kate to find that mole. There are several characters who may be the culprit, including the front runner for prime minister.

Usually, when the author is British like Bradby, readers immediately sense the different atmosphere, and in their minds, imagine the characters’ English accents as the story progresses. One would also expect English idioms and phrases. Unfortunately, that is not what you get in this novel. In fact, I had to make sure this was actually set in England because the setting and ambiance were so banal that most readers wouldn’t be sure. Although Bradby has done some good development of his characters, they aren’t particularly likeable. Kate’s good friend, Julie is not only sleeping with one on the Russian team, but she is a heavy smoker – which makes her seem cheap and definitely a suspect for the mole. Ian is not a team player, and Rav, who is Kate’s best back-up doesn’t seem to be with it. All told, the characters aren’t believable, especially as spies, and although the writing isn’t bad, one gets the sense that the author doesn’t really know much about spy and espionage.

Another problem with this novel is that there is almost no suspense; it doesn’t even build at the end when the mole is unmasked. Kate’s job as a spy isn’t believable, since she spends much of her time at home fixing dinner and raising her children, who are typical. It’s more like a modern fiction novel, rather than a spy thriller.

This “thriller” didn’t thrill me, and I wouldn’t recommend it to others who like British spy thrillers because it most likely won’t thrill anyone else either.

Special thanks to NetGalley for supplying a review copy of this book.

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