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Reviewed by Melinda Hills for Readers' Favorite
When Spencer Hall, Head of British MI5, sees Jack Stein resting against a car across the street, he knows that it is not a social visit. In The Downing Street Plot by Toby Oliver, Stein, a US CIA agent, is in London to personally deliver a message to Hall, and it is not good. Based on the best intelligence available out of Moscow, there is a plot to assassinate the Prime Minister of England. Even worse, the contract killer may have once been a top British agent. Hall, not flustered by anything, tackles the situation straight on, enlisting the aid of several former associates whom he can trust with his, and the Prime Minister’s, life. Coded messages, surveillance and some plain old good luck help Hall and the team put the pieces together bit by bit, hopefully in time to avoid catastrophe. Saving the Prime Minister is one thing, though, and capturing the assassin is another. Can Hall and his unusual group of operatives do both?
Toby Oliver has crafted a strong Cold War espionage story with realistic characters and a subtle but steadily building tension. The action is, for the most part, understated, but that reflects Hall’s personality – playing everything close to the chest. When things heat up, there is plenty of excitement! An interesting element of The Downing Street Plot is the history the characters share. The setting is 1960, London, but they all had some connection to the intelligence community in England and behind enemy lines during WWII, and those flashbacks add depth to the story and an explanation for the trust they have in one another. The Downing Street Plot is a solid, enjoyable read that will keep you turning the pages as the characters race against the clock.