Tuesday, January 12, 2021

Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (Book one in a trilogy)


Red Sparrow

(Red Sparrow Trilogy #1)

 3.95  ·   Rating details ·  48,519 ratings  ·  4,279 reviews
In the grand spy-tale tradition of John le Carré comes this shocking thriller written with insider detail known only to a veteran CIA officer.

In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.

Spies have long relied on the “honey trap,” whereby vulnerable men and women are intimately compromised. Dominika learns these techniques of “sexpionage” in Russia’s secret “Sparrow School,” hidden outside of Moscow. As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate’s game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, DC.

Page by page, veteran CIA officer Jason Matthews’s Red Sparrow delights and terrifies and fascinates, all while delivering an unforgettable cast, from a sadistic Spetsnaz “mechanic” who carries out Putin’s murderous schemes to the weary CIA Station Chief who resists Washington “cake-eaters” to MARBLE, the priceless Russian mole. Packed with insider detail and written with brio, this tour-de-force novel brims with Matthews’s life experience, including his knowledge of espionage, counterintelligence, surveillance tradecraft, spy recruitment, cyber-warfare, the Russian use of “spy dust,” and covert communications. Brilliantly composed and elegantly constructed, Red Sparrow is a masterful spy tale lifted from the dossiers of intelligence agencies on both sides of the Atlantic. Authentic, tense, and entertaining, this novel introduces Jason Matthews as a major new American talent.
Thank you Goodreads for this amazing book blurb.

Now onto what I think of the story.

Character development;

The prima ballerina is somebody the reader gets to know pretty well.  Her later love interest and the CIA agent that saves her, endangers her life, and in general think she is made out of porcelain is not a bad character but he could have been developed a bit more.

As for the characters that filled the fluff.  Some of them needs serious work.  Still, those who did not was fascinating and I would not mind reading more about them pretty soon.  
Overall 3 *

Pace of story:

The book is not a fast read but it is a compelling read if this is your genre so it reads far faster than you might have imagined at the start.  I liked the pace and I liked the flow.  

Overall 4*

The plot: 

Well now.  This is the one thing most of us can agree upon.  The plot was fascinating.  It has been some time since I last read an East vs West spy novel and this one did not disappoint in the least.  

Overall 4*

The general feel of the book left me with a complete story and I was amazed to find out this is only the first in a trilogy.  The first book ended neat enough for my taste.  

So in all, it is a good but not fast read that can do with a bit of character development but still serves to entertain.  A well deserved 4*.
About the author thanks to Goodreads

Jason Matthews


Librarian's note: There is more than one author in the Goodreads database with this name.

Jason Matthews is a retired officer of the CIA’s Operations Directorate. Over a thirty-three-year career he served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in clandestine collection of national security intelligence, specializing in denied-area operations. Matthews conducted recruitment operations against Soviet–East European, East Asian, Middle Eastern, and Caribbean targets. As Chief in various CIA Stations, he collaborated with foreign partners in counterproliferation and counterterrorism operations. He lives in Southern California.

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