The Nursery by Asia Mackay: Funny, entertaining, clever and original, this is mum-power on turbo charge! - book review

The Nurseryby Asia Mackay
The Nurseryby Asia Mackay

Tears, tantrums, the terrible twos... and a handgun in a tote bag!

When motherhood meets espionage head-on, it can only mean one thing – super-hero agent Lex Tyler is back, and bullets, safeguarding the nation, and potty training are all in a day’s work.

If you haven’t already been introduced to Asia Mackay’s answer to James Bond, then now is the time to get down to the bunker hidden beneath Holborn tube station in London and meet the coolest, female kick-ass assassin on Her Majesty’s Secret Service payroll.

Mackay burst on to the scene – and won every working mum’s heart – last year with her cracking debut novel, Killing It, a laugh-out-loud spy caper starring the lovely Lex, freshly returned to her job and juggling shoot-outs with baby bathtime.

And now daughter Gigi has turned two, Lex is facing one of her deadliest missions yet, and there’s danger, double-dealing and domestic discord aplenty.

Alexis ‘Lex’ Tyler is trying to have it all, but being a working mother is so much more difficult when you’re a secret agent. And Lex is not just an ‘ordinary’ agent… she’s a ‘Rat,’ an experienced assassin working inside a little-known branch of the Secret Service, a job so secret that even her long-suffering lawyer husband Will has no idea what she really does.

Her bosses at Platform Eight are under orders from the highest level to track down and eliminate the traitor in MI6 who has been selling information to the highest bidder through a headhunting website for the criminal underworld which connects intelligence operatives with all manner of evil people.

Deals get made, secrets get sold, missions fail, agents die and it’s down to Lex and her team to identify and eliminate the traitor before they assassinate the soon-to-visit Chinese Minister of Commerce and ruin relations between the UK and China forever.

It’s at times like this that Lex starts to wonder whether being a Rat and a mother is too much to handle. Who needs duty and betrayal when you have teething, tantrums and potty-training to deal with, and a husband’s dry cleaning to collect?

But with the future of the intelligence services resting on her shoulders, Lex cannot afford to fail in her most important mission yet.

A former television presenter and producer, and now mother of four young children, Mackay’s wickedly witty Lex Tyler series was gestated during her maternity leave and its clever blend of hilarious family dramas and menacing, suspense-packed action thrillers is proving to be a winning combination.

Ingeniously constructed plots, spine-tingling tension, and high-octane spy missions jostle perfectly with the laugh-out-loud realities of family life and fascinating emotional insights into every working mother’s innermost guilt complex.

As fast with her motherhood quips as she is with a loaded .38 pistol, hit-woman Lex Tyler is a brilliant feminist hero, endlessly obsessing over not ‘gender stereotyping’ her daughter, but fearlessly stepping in when there’s danger ahead.

Funny, entertaining, clever and original, this is mum-power on turbo charge!

(Zaffre, paperback, £7.99)