Book Review

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Triple Cross, by Tom Bradby

This book is the third episode in the Kate Henderson series, and it is a worthy member; the previous story, Double Agent, was reviewed here, so I won’t repeat the backstory for the latest story, or reveal the ending of the previous one, but certain inferences could be drawn from Kate’s situation at the beginning of this one. Kate has now left MI6, and the narrative commences with her on holiday in the south of France, with her two children, and her husband, Stuart, who is permitted to leave Russia temporarily; but not enter Britain, from which he is barred, on account of his earlier treachery. Her children continue to hope for a rapprochement between their parents and, surprisingly [for Kate, as much as for Fiona & Gus] this appears to be on the cards. Almost inevitably though, she becomes aware of being under surveillance while away from their gîte, and manages to lose the pursuit car with some arguably dangerous driving—especially given her passengers—but only to find on returning that the prime minister, James Ryan, has imperiously imposed a visit upon her, and she has no choice but to listen to what he has to say.

There is still a high-level mole in MI6, codenamed Dante, and Kate is to be tasked—all objections ignored—with leading an independent, but also highly secret, for obvious reasons, investigation into the agent’s identity; in the process, also, finally laying to rest any suspicions about the prime minister’s loyalty, which Kate thought had been conclusively proved by the inquiry in which she played a large part before she left the service. There are two prime suspects [although there are others including, awkwardly for Kate, of course: herself]: the current and the former head of SIS, known as C; the current C, Ian Granger, and the previous one, who was always kindly avuncular towards Kate, Sir Alan Brabazon. The links, both direct & indirect, which both of these highly qualified and very clever men had with the Russians, Igor & Mikhail Borodin, who played significant parts in the previous story, would need to be scrutinised in great detail before a decision could be reached. Kate works with a small team, one of whom is her close colleague, Julie Carmichael, but also two others over whose selection she has no choice: Shirley Grove, Ryan’s cabinet secretary [who oversaw Kate’s previous inquiry], and a young [and very hunky] assistant private secretary to Ryan, Callum Ellis.

As ever [or so we are led to believe] in the murky world of espionage and the security services, nothing can be taken at face value, and suspicious coincidences & occurrences which seem too neat or obvious must be considered extremely carefully, which leads Kate, understandably, to reëxamine all the circumstances & personal associations which led to the current situation. Before long, she realises that she has no choice but to make a trip into ‘the lion’s den’, Moscow, to obtain in person from a new agent some information which will finally & conclusively unmask Dante. Unsurprisingly, there are complications, but to reveal any more would spoil the plot: suffice to say that the dénouement, although unexpected, is conclusive, whilst leaving the door open for further instalments in the series, towards which I look forward with anticipation. The Penguin paperback I read was published in 2022 [2021] by Bantam Press, an imprint of Transworld Publishers, London, ISBN 978-0-5521-7786-3.

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