They're entertaining, as is this novel. The twist is that the author apparently was a covert agent in 'real life,' lending the details a level of credibility that makes the novel more-than-average. (Do the Russians really use that spy dust to uncover clandestine meetings with the CIA? Who knew?)
The Russians are definitely the bad guys here, except for the ones that are working with 'us.' Dominika, the beautiful (of course) trained spy who is tired of being used by everyone and decides to take revenge. She is sent to trap but ends up working with the handsome (of course) trained CIA guy who is also the handler of the #1 Russian mole in history. From there, the story takes off, with a lot of fun twists and turns and coming to a great climax. Read particularly well by Jeremy Bobb.
If you're looking for an entertaining read, look no further.
I love books!
First time author for me and debut novel for James Matthews. It was a page gurner and I couldn't put it down. The author is a retired CIA officer and got much of the book from his background. This is a classic Russia versus the USA and it's current day. The author must've written this book 2-3 years ago but the event he decscribes are the ones going on right now in Ukraine and elsewhere. He states that Russia misses being a superpower and now being considered second class. Vladimir Putin's goal is to creat a USSR vesrion 2.0. With this backdrop the author creates some interesting characters on both sides and an intense, hard hitting story of spy versus spy. Using current events makes it even more plausible. The author is supposedly writing a second book using these characters, I'll look forward to it.
List of favorite books: Woodcutter - Reginald Hill, Consent to Kill, First Deadly Sin - Lawrence Sanders, Sniper Elite - Scott McEwen
To try and put it words...... It wasn't enough of any one thing. I see why people liked it - But I don't know why it was loved by most. It was a spy novel without too much mystery. A CIA novel without enough assassinations. A love story that didn't have enough connection. I didn't hate it - But I surely didn't love it...... What can I say?
Red Sparrow is the debut novel from retired CIA retiree with 33 years experience. It has a certain ring of authenticity throughout. Good thing he can write also!
A few things that set this book apart from other spy novels (for better or for worse):
1. The main character has a "sixth-sense" that allows her instincts to 'sense' what another personality is feeling (ie., anger, betrayal, deceit, lust, etc...).
She can see another person's "aura" which shows their true "colors" and this aura flares when agitated regardless of other outward appearances by the person. This would give an obvious advantage to the person who could read this aura. This didn't particularly bother me, as I just put it down as a literary form to express heightened instincts that were visible to the character and reader, or etc...I could see how this might bother other readers though, as it borders on the supernatural or silly when in the context of a serious espionage novel, but it was fine.
2. Each chapter ended with a recipe for a food that was tasted by the main characters somewhere in the previous chapter.
I actually enjoyed this aspect, although other reviewers had stated an annoyance or the superfluity of it. Being a spy novel it could easily be seen as a way to pass information to a knowing party, where another party would see it only as mundane information. Another reason I liked the recipes included, is because they were interesting. They added a dimension to the story that I often listen for: sights, sounds, SMELLS, tastes, etc...
The author really seemed to love cooking and the food sounded really tasty at times! I didn't think this was overdone either, as the recipe normally took about one-two minutes to recite.
It was otherwise a satisfying spy novel, and the conclusion was somewhat unique. I would highly recommend to fans of this genre.
Everything: characters, plot, narration.
Lot of twists and turns. Hard to stop listening.
The red sparrow.
Intelligent spy thriller
Other books I've liked, so readers can get a sense of my taste: Gone Girl, Suspect, Guilty Wives, Witness, The Unlikely Spy, Cutting for Stone, most Daniel Silva, most John Le Carre. I wish other reviewers would put their top likes as well.
Reality in fiction. Compared to other espionage books, this seems more real.
Robert Driver Bishop
very good narrative & sound
Ludlum us to talk about importance of geometric thinking over linear. Nice twist and turns herein. As former Russian analyst; enjoyed the many dimensions.
First time reading a book made me so hungry!!!
Spy novels are not my normal genre, but Matthews' book was strongly recommended and I gave it a shot. The story is gripping and stays with you long after you've paused for the day, and forces you to lock your self away in your room with your head phones for hours. The performance by the narrator is excellent and from the opening lines his slow gravely voice oozes 1950's noir. I also liked the subject matter, setting a spy novel in post cold war American/Russian espionage was genius in my opinion. I did have a few complaints that are going to keep me from giving Matthews novel 5 stars. I know I just praised the story for its originality on peace time espionage but as a reader who has never worked in intelligence and rarely reads spy novels I was hoping Matthews would build in an understanding as to why some seemingly small scenes were/ are so important, basically teach me more about peace time spying than what I gleam from the story. Character development was great you quickly become familiar with the cast and you learn their personality's but with that in mind I think the author should have developed the story as much as he did his characters. His excellent characters create the color for the story unfortunately the reader is then invested in the characters and not the story and by the end of the book you or at least I felt like I had missed something, not a cliff hanger but more like dissonance it doesn't feel complete and I feel that is due to the lack of story development towards the end. All in all a really good listen, I have the luxury of working outside and can listen to books at work so I flew threw the "red sparrow" in a few days. I would still recommend this book, and then after my friend finished I would ask "so what did you think?"
The recipes at the end of each chapter. I will try some Russian cooking.
The end definitely moved me. I'm suspecting there will be a sequel given the way it ended, but I felt sadness for Marble and Nate both.