Review Blog

Nov 30 2018

Moscow Sleepers by Stella Rimington

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Bloomsbury, 2018. ISBN 9781408859759
(Age: secondary to adult) Themes: Spying, Cold War, Refugees, Unaccompanied children, Hacking, Trafficking. Another great Rimington read exposing the back story to some of the tactics played out by spying communities around the world, this book is a stunning thriller as Liz Carlyle, an officer within MI5, tracks the work of two Russian sleepers in Germany. Irma is the head of a school which takes in refugee children, but unbeknownst to her husband, Dieter, she alerts her Russian handlers to the cleverest amongst these unaccompanied children and they are taken to a school in rural England where they are ostensibly trained to spot computer hacking, but what they are really doing is hacking government computers around the world.
With fingers being pointed at various governments at the moment about computer hacking, this makes an up-to-the minute read. A series of seemingly unconnected incidents come together in Liz's mind as Peggy interviews an older teacher at the school in Suffolk, dismayed at the way the school is operating, Liz goes to Eastern Europe to interview a mole whose brother in the Russian military is offering information, the two in Germany come under suspicion because of their activities and Bruno McKay is sent to Russia to recruit the brother. A heart stopping read ensues with many things being juggled but coming to a neat conclusion, not before Liz must once again contact Chief Inspector Pearrson as part of her investigations and their relationship moves forward.
Former head of MI5, Rimington tells a smartly detailed and involving thriller, steeped in a world she knows inside out. The authenticity of the background of the tale demands the attention of the reader and this is readily engaged to the very last page.
Behind the scenes Rimingtin gives a glimpse of the fate of unaccompanied children, some trying to get to England by themselves, others losing their families along the way, some used as in this book by unscrupulous forces to exploit their computing skills, while Border Force cannot patrol the whole coastline to catch those attempting to land along the remote Suffolk cast.
Refugees are an issue for many countries, and it is with some relief that the children in this book are treated at the end with a generosity of spirit to be admired.
Fran Knight

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