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Red Sparrow : A Novel

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Includes an excerpt from Palace of treason.

Customer Review Snapshot

4.3 out of 5 stars
18 total reviews
5 stars
9
4 stars
6
3 stars
2
2 stars
1
1 star
0
Most helpful positive review
I enjoy good spy fiction; I read 8-10 spy novels each year. I think of spy fiction as represented by a spectrum with Vince Flynn and Lee Child at one end, and Le Carre at the other. Le Carre stories are very character driven with strong political opinions clearly stated. The prose is always excellent, very descriptive, the story builds very slowly, the climax is always satisfying but sometimes disappointing, the characters are often anti-heroes, and there is only one climax. At the opposing end (Flynn et al), the stories are very plot driven with lots of action and the protagonists are out to save the globe; there are multiple climaxes. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews fits somewhere in the middle. It mostly feels authentic - Matthews is former CIA - and the book has been well researched. Whether the scenes take place in Athens or at a border crossing in Estonia, you feel that Matthews has been there and is describing what he has seen. The story revolves around a young CIA agent who has had some field successes but still has some maturing to do. We concurrently follow a young woman, Dominika, on the Russian side who is on a fast track up the spy ladder; she is very reminiscent of one of Flynn's and Child's superagents. Each is assigned the task of recruiting the other. The first half of the story is fairly slow and it gradually becomes more interesting. I often had the feeling I could see where this story was going but on occasion it turned in an unexpected direction. There were a few aspects of the plot and characters I didn't particularly care for. To avoid spoilers, I will list only a few. Domi has a special sense, not like a 6th sense, more like a 7th; the author makes the case that though rare it is real. Perhaps, but I thought it a bit silly and distracting. One of the characters speaks very insubordinately to officers in the military hierarchy and though this is explained I did not feel it credible. A "canary" trick is employed to fool the opposition; I would have thought that went out in the 60's. It seemed to be that the author, more than once, took advantage of this book, to take some heart felt shots at the FBI, even to the point of ridicule. And why are there recipes for a food item mentioned in the book at the end of everyone of the 40 or so chapters?? And finally, I thought the climax was a bit too much, no subtlety. Remember "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"? One climax, a twist, all wrapped up in one. It felt real all the way; this didn't. I am sure there will be a series here. Will I read #2? Maybe, maybe not.

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Includes an excerpt from Palace of treason. Now a major motion picture starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton!

From veteran CIA officer Jason Matthews, the electrifying, New York Times bestselling modern spy thriller, Red Sparrow.

In contemporary Russia, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova has been drafted to become a “Sparrow”—a spy trained in the art of seduction to elicit information from their marks. She’s been assigned to Nathaniel Nash, a CIA officer who handles the organization’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow.

For fans of John le Carré and Ian Fleming and featuring “high-level espionage, pulse-pounding danger, sex, double agents, and double crosses” (Nelson DeMille), Red Sparrow is a timely and electrifying thriller that is impossible to put down.

Specifications

Series Title
The Red Sparrow Trilogy
Publisher
Scribner
Book Format
Paperback
Original Languages
English
Number of Pages
464
Author
Jason Matthews
ISBN-13
9781501171574
Publication Date
February, 2018
Assembled Product Dimensions (L x W x H)
8.00 x 5.25 x 1.00 Inches
ISBN-10
1501171577

Customer Reviews

5 stars
9
4 stars
6
3 stars
2
2 stars
1
1 star
0
Most helpful positive review
1 customers found this helpful
I enjoy good spy ficti...
I enjoy good spy fiction; I read 8-10 spy novels each year. I think of spy fiction as represented by a spectrum with Vince Flynn and Lee Child at one end, and Le Carre at the other. Le Carre stories are very character driven with strong political opinions clearly stated. The prose is always excellent, very descriptive, the story builds very slowly, the climax is always satisfying but sometimes disappointing, the characters are often anti-heroes, and there is only one climax. At the opposing end (Flynn et al), the stories are very plot driven with lots of action and the protagonists are out to save the globe; there are multiple climaxes. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews fits somewhere in the middle. It mostly feels authentic - Matthews is former CIA - and the book has been well researched. Whether the scenes take place in Athens or at a border crossing in Estonia, you feel that Matthews has been there and is describing what he has seen. The story revolves around a young CIA agent who has had some field successes but still has some maturing to do. We concurrently follow a young woman, Dominika, on the Russian side who is on a fast track up the spy ladder; she is very reminiscent of one of Flynn's and Child's superagents. Each is assigned the task of recruiting the other. The first half of the story is fairly slow and it gradually becomes more interesting. I often had the feeling I could see where this story was going but on occasion it turned in an unexpected direction. There were a few aspects of the plot and characters I didn't particularly care for. To avoid spoilers, I will list only a few. Domi has a special sense, not like a 6th sense, more like a 7th; the author makes the case that though rare it is real. Perhaps, but I thought it a bit silly and distracting. One of the characters speaks very insubordinately to officers in the military hierarchy and though this is explained I did not feel it credible. A "canary" trick is employed to fool the opposition; I would have thought that went out in the 60's. It seemed to be that the author, more than once, took advantage of this book, to take some heart felt shots at the FBI, even to the point of ridicule. And why are there recipes for a food item mentioned in the book at the end of everyone of the 40 or so chapters?? And finally, I thought the climax was a bit too much, no subtlety. Remember "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"? One climax, a twist, all wrapped up in one. It felt real all the way; this didn't. I am sure there will be a series here. Will I read #2? Maybe, maybe not.
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Great potential, lack ...
Great potential, lack of execution. I never connected to the characters on either side. Unfortunate, I was hoping for a good spy-vs-spy thriller and got a lot of not-much.
Most helpful positive review
1 customers found this helpful
I enjoy good spy ficti...
I enjoy good spy fiction; I read 8-10 spy novels each year. I think of spy fiction as represented by a spectrum with Vince Flynn and Lee Child at one end, and Le Carre at the other. Le Carre stories are very character driven with strong political opinions clearly stated. The prose is always excellent, very descriptive, the story builds very slowly, the climax is always satisfying but sometimes disappointing, the characters are often anti-heroes, and there is only one climax. At the opposing end (Flynn et al), the stories are very plot driven with lots of action and the protagonists are out to save the globe; there are multiple climaxes. Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews fits somewhere in the middle. It mostly feels authentic - Matthews is former CIA - and the book has been well researched. Whether the scenes take place in Athens or at a border crossing in Estonia, you feel that Matthews has been there and is describing what he has seen. The story revolves around a young CIA agent who has had some field successes but still has some maturing to do. We concurrently follow a young woman, Dominika, on the Russian side who is on a fast track up the spy ladder; she is very reminiscent of one of Flynn's and Child's superagents. Each is assigned the task of recruiting the other. The first half of the story is fairly slow and it gradually becomes more interesting. I often had the feeling I could see where this story was going but on occasion it turned in an unexpected direction. There were a few aspects of the plot and characters I didn't particularly care for. To avoid spoilers, I will list only a few. Domi has a special sense, not like a 6th sense, more like a 7th; the author makes the case that though rare it is real. Perhaps, but I thought it a bit silly and distracting. One of the characters speaks very insubordinately to officers in the military hierarchy and though this is explained I did not feel it credible. A "canary" trick is employed to fool the opposition; I would have thought that went out in the 60's. It seemed to be that the author, more than once, took advantage of this book, to take some heart felt shots at the FBI, even to the point of ridicule. And why are there recipes for a food item mentioned in the book at the end of everyone of the 40 or so chapters?? And finally, I thought the climax was a bit too much, no subtlety. Remember "The Spy Who Came In From The Cold"? One climax, a twist, all wrapped up in one. It felt real all the way; this didn't. I am sure there will be a series here. Will I read #2? Maybe, maybe not.
Most helpful negative review
1 customers found this helpful
Great potential, lack ...
Great potential, lack of execution. I never connected to the characters on either side. Unfortunate, I was hoping for a good spy-vs-spy thriller and got a lot of not-much.
1-5 of 18 reviews

Red Sparrow, Jason Mat...

Red Sparrow, Jason Matthews, author; Jeremy Bobb, narrator Red Sparrow shines a light on the methods used by the American Intelligence Services and the Russian Intelligence Services. Nathan Nash and Dominika Egorova are agents working for their government's intelligence services in the interest of national security. Sometimes they are able to turn unsuspecting rubes into spies and traitors. Nate is American. Nate did not want to become part of the long list of lawyers in his family. He defied his father and went to work for the CIA. He became the handler of a Russian spy called Marble. Marble is a gentleman, soft-spoken and well mannered. He is a General, placed high up in the Russian government. He is part of the Russian Intelligence Service known as the SVR. He became disillusioned with his country when his wife was ill. When she was refused treatment outside of Russia, treatment that might have saved her life, he turned against his homeland and became a spy for the CIA. He did not like the direction his country was going in with Putin as its head. Putin is demanding and self absorbed. He expects his orders to be followed to the letter. Disobedience is not tolerated, nor is criticism or dissent. Dominika is Russian. She had adored her father, a professor. When he passed away, she and her mom had financial problems. Both her parents had encouraged her to think freely and follow her heart, but in Russia that was more easily said than done. In Russia, you followed the rules if you wanted to live. Her dad's brother, her Uncle Vanya, the Deputy Director of the SVR, offered her a job as his assistant. She had been a professional ballerina with a promising career. When she was deliberately injured, so severely that her ballet career was ended, she had no career, no financial support. Vanya was an evil man who was in charge of a branch of the Russian Intelligence Service that engaged in brutal methods of investigation and interrogation. Dominika had little choice, but to obey him. He said he would make sure her mother could stay in her home, receiving the same benefits as if her dad had not died. She told Vanya that she wanted to work in the service as an agent, not an administrative assistant. He was not happy; women were not recruited for that kind of job. Still, she convinced him to allow her to do so, and she did so well that she bested all of her competition. He plotted to betray her behind the scenes, and merely used her to his advantage. When her career was deliberately sabotaged again, Vanya forced her to go to Sparrow School, against her will. He promised to continue to take care of her mother if she went, otherwise, he could guarantee nothing. Sparrow School, however, was known by all to be a training ground for prostitutes. The women were looked down upon as they were trained to use their bodies and their wiles to set men up in honey traps in order to "persuade" them to be spies for Russia, or to get their secrets while they whispered in each other's ears in intimate moments. Sometimes they were unaware that they were betraying their own country. As time passed, the more that Russia betrayed her, the more she wanted to betray Russia. Marble, the double agent handled by Nash, becomes somewhat of a mentor for her, especially when she is assigned a job with him. Neither knows the other is a double agent, at first. Dominika has synesthesia and she sees Marble with a calm purple halo. She trus ts him. Dominika is assigned to discover the name of the high level Russian spy that Nate is handling. She sees Nate with the same purple halo around him. It signifies his basic goodness, his honesty and lack of deception when he communicates with her. Her goals become conflicted. At this same time, Nate is assigned to try and turn her into a spy for America; so both of them are working each other without realizing it. Dominika is known as the Diva. Both Nate and Dominika are really attracted to each other, but their cat and mouse game, seeking to find out what each was doing, prevented them from fully realizing their feelings until Dominika grew truly disgusted with the way her country was treating her. To Nate's surprise, she reveals her job to him. She works with the Russian SVR, the feared secret intelligence arm of the government. The novel reveals the brutal nature of the Russian intelligentsia as well as the sometimes callous way the CIA treats its informants. Often, different branches of the services work against each other. The ends seems to justify their means. There are well placed influential spies in both Russia and America. There are no shortages of traitors on both sides. In Russia, though, the mere suspicion of guilt exposes the subject to torture until a confession is given. There is no presumption of innocence. The treatment of prisoners by sadistic guards and interrogators is barbaric. The book is long and sometimes there is too much dialogue, but overall, it is exciting, and it holds the reader's interest. It certainly kept me wanting more. Several of the characters really appreciated good food, and at the end of each chapter, a brief description of a delicious sounding recipe is provided. The narrator does a very good job delineating each character and the author , a former CIA agent, has identified each so well that recognizing them when they speak is not difficult. The part that is confusing is trying to keep track of them, because there are many. This was the first in a series of three books and I am looking forward to the second and third.

Jason Matthews writes ...

Jason Matthews writes with such authority about the CIA that I kept thinking as I read this book -- he's either got a great imagination, or he was a player. It turns out to be the latter. A retired CIA officer, he has written Red Sparrow as the first of a trilogy. If I could sum up my thoughts on completing it, I'd have to say this: I can't wait to start reading the second volume. There are things I could have done without, such as the recipes that end each chapter (and the constant references to food in the text that seem to be placed there as an excuse for the recipes that follow) and the over-use of Russian phrases. That having been said, the book is wonderfully plotted, full of suspense, with memorable characters (most notably Dominika Egorova), violent and sexy and unputdownable. Matthews is a thriller writer of the first order, as good as le Carré and better than Fleming. Yes, that good.

Has already been revie...

Has already been reviewed multiple times. The trailer, being broadcast everywhere, about the movie adaptation is very misleading about the focus of this spy thriller. The hero is a fascinating woman who thrives despite adversity while several of the surrounding older men are intriguing as well. Her nominal handler Nate is a bit of a cipher, but no novel is perfect. It's definitely a step up from some of the popcorn sci-fi I've been gobbling up, if not up to the caliber of Literature. As good as the Ernest DeMille's we used to read.

One of the best espion...

One of the best espionage novels in recent memory, Red Sparrow is long on tradecraft and realistic details and short on unlikely nonsense, for the most part. The writing is sharp, the characters and most of the scenarios are believable, and the chapters are appended with recipes lifted from the plot - and the food sounds great. (The Austrian espionage writer Johannes Mario Simmel also incorporated recipes into at least one of his novels to great effect). I already have the sequel, Palace of Treason, and am looking forward to reading it.

A stunning thriller, f...

A stunning thriller, first of a trilogy although the third will not be out until January 2018--perhaps because political life in the US is getting too close to the fictional life that Jason Matthews creates. Matthews is an ex-CIA agent, a field operative, and every word, right down to the commas he says, are checked over by the CIA. The two main characters are Russian (Dominika Egorova in the FSB) and Nathanial Nash, an American CIA agent. Putin plays a central role--especially in the second part of the trilogy Palace of Treason and should play an even more major role in the projected third, The Kremlin's Candidate). This is a book that I could not put down and which I urge everyone to read.

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Electrode, Comp-812499166, DC-prod-az-southcentralus-15, ENV-prod-a, PROF-PROD, VER-30.0.3-ebf-2, SHA-8c8e8dc1c07e462c80c1b82096c2da2858100078, CID-ee17dc60-d7c-16e90e1a7f646c, Generated: Fri, 22 Nov 2019 02:12:18 GMT