After all the seriousness from the last few weeks, I read Rip Tide by Dame Stella Rimington this week. I love the idea of – and reading about – badass women. Both Stella and Liz Carlyle, the protagonist, fall into that category. Stella Rimington was the head of MI5 before she became a writer. I can’t begin to imagine the obstacles she must have faced to become the head of MI5. I’m sure not everyone was happy to see a woman climb the ranks like that. It must have taken a lot of hard work and perseverance to get there. And she must have been very very good at her job.
I have no idea how good Stella really was as an agent and the head of MI5, but I love her writing. She has written what is so far a 10 part series about Liz Carlyle, who is also an MI5 agent. Rip Tide is the 6th book in the series.
Even though the protagonist is a woman, the books are not just for women. After all, women also read books with male protagonists. If we didn’t it would limit our choice of books to read significantly and we would miss out on many beautiful stories.
Liz comes across as a real woman. There is no over the top drama, she’s not worried about the size of her breasts or the way they might be moving (or not). She does sometimes regret wearing heels, or worries about what to wear to not stand out and feel uncomfortable at particular events or places.
I love Liz’s empathy and her concern for other people’s wellbeing and the way in which we see her struggle when her values clash with the responsibilities that are part of her job.
In Rip Tide, a charity’s ship is being attacked by pirates of the coast of Somalia. It’s the third time pirates try to take one of their ships and its crew hostage. Is it a coincidence or is there more to it? One of the pirates is not like the others. He doesn’t communicate with the other pirates. What’s his story?
All the Liz Carlyle novels are enjoyable and exciting from start to finish. They are easy to read and there is enough tension to not want to put the book down, but it’s not so tense that you are afraid of what you’ll discover if you read on.
I highly recommend all Liz Carlyle books, including Rip Tide. For those new to the series, the first book is At Risk.
Stella Rimington was the chair of judges of the Man Booker prize in 2011 and her speech describes some of the interesting dynamics around that role.
It’s almost impossible to just pick one snippet from it, so I’ll just share the start. You can find the full speech at the Man Booker Prize web site.
“Well – I thought the intelligence world was the place for intrigue – but that was before I met the publishing world.
Since our shortlist was announced we’ve seen black propaganda, de-stabilisation operations, plots and double agents – worthy of the KGB at its height.”