The start of a major career! A gripping, highly commercial espionage thriller written with the delicious insider detail and up-to-the-minute insight only known to a veteran CIA spook.
In today's Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a "Sparrow" - a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA'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.
Seeking revenge against her soulless masters, Dominika begins a fatal double life, recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington - hunt down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Putin's intelligence service. Dominika and Nathaniel's impossible love affair and twisted spy game come to a deadly conclusion in the shocking climax of this electrifying, up-to-the minute spy thriller.w
©2013 Jason Matthews (P)2013 Simon & Schuster Audio
Photographer, nature & water geek, music lover, book fiend.
This is one of those rare books that stuck with me for months after reading it. The sometimes monstrous nature of what our respective espionage agencies do and justify in the name of security are well represented here, & while this is certainly a pro-western read, it doesn't shy away from illustrating dirty deeds on all sides. That said, the entire concept of sparrow school- what it entails, & what the "training" must do to its students- stuck with me for months & left its mark on me. Great listen the first time, & I've just re-read to prep for the second novel, & it's even better this go- round.
Maine Colonial 🌲
Who says the Cold War is over? Sure, the Berlin Wall came down, the USSR is fractured, and Russia is no longer a communist state, but that doesn't mean the US isn't watching Russia very carefully––and vice versa.
Vladimir Putin, that old KGB operative and apparently now President-for-Life, has plenty of tricks up his sleeve––and I'm not talking about this week's news that he purloined Bob Kraft's Patriots Super Bowl ring. Vlad the Cad plans for Russia to return to being a superpower, and for that he needs excellent intelligence on the US government. Even more important for right now, he needs somebody to find out who is passing Russian secrets to the CIA's young agent, Nate Nash.
Enter Dominika Egorova, the former ballet dancer, turned into a spy by her conniving uncle, Ivan Egorov. Egorov, the slime, sends Dominika to "sparrow school," where Russian intelligence trains agents in the most effective techniques to seduce their targets. Nate is Dominika's target, and their dance begins. The first half of the story details this slow seduction and the development of Dominika's position within the Russian security apparatus.
It's unusual for espionage fiction to feature a female agent, but this is Dominika's story. She begins as a fervent nationalist, naïvely trusting that the servants of the motherland share her honor and devotion. Her own uncle's callously manipulative actions are just her first clues that Russian intelligence is a dangerous place. Dominika has some special help maneuvering through this snakepit. She has a form of synesthesia that gives her the ability to see colored auras around people that clue her into their real character or state of mind.
The second half of the story raises the stakes, as both sides play a no-limit game of Mole Hunt. The Russians need Dominika to get Nate to reveal their mole, while the Americans are in hot pursuit of someone highly placed in government who is funneling secrets to the Russians. Author Jason Matthews, a retired longtime CIA agent, constructs a a fiendishly clever plot, filled with characters painted in all shades of gray (or, for Dominika, yellow, brown, red, blue and purple), including one especially colorful love-to-hate villain.
Particularly for a debut novel, this is just a bang-up tale of modern espionage, with all the appeal of an old-fashioned Cold War yarn. Matthews does commit a few rookie errors. He uses too much alliteration in character names, he's not great with physical descriptions (what's a "willowy smile"?), Dominika's synesthesia can get a little gimmicky, and some plot elements rely on stupid mistakes.
More troublesome is Matthews' depiction of all FBI agents as jumped-up beat cops, and incompetent ones at that. I don't have any inside knowledge of the FBI, but the law of averages alone would suggest that it can't be 100% incompetent. No, this smells like a dramatization of the well-known animosity between the two agencies, told by a biased party, and it interferes with the story. Relatively speaking, though, my criticisms are nits. Matthews is a powerful storyteller and this is first-rate espionage fiction.
I don't want to forget to mention one of the most unusual aspects of the book. Every chapter ends with a recipe. Sure, we've all seen that plenty of times in cozy mysteries, but this is a first for me in serious espionage fiction. I've even made copies of some of the recipes and already prepared one of the dishes (a delicious soubise).
I hope Jason Matthews continues Dominika's story in future books––and keeps his readers stocked with new recipes.
ABOUT THE NARRATOR: Jeremy Bobb was an adequate reader, but no more. His pronunciation of Russian names and words wasn't good. His reading sounded like reading, too; he didn't bring the words to life.
Enjoy suspense, mysteries and a good laugh. A good book is hard to find so I'm hoping to help others weed through the bad ones.
The film is in production starring Jennifer Lawrence (Passengers, Silver Linings Play Book, Hunger Games) and Directed by Francis Lawrence who directed the Hunger Games Trilogy.
Now onto my review of this GREAT novel. I had no idea what to expect but this book is BY FAR the best spy novel I have ever read, and if they even just do a decent job on the screenplay, they can't go wrong with this much material it is sure to be a blockbuster hit.
It's about a female Russian spy nicknamed the "Red Sparrow" and that is pretty much all I can say because I hate spoilers.
It's a long book but I finished it in 2 days, I couldn't put it down. It's suspenseful to the point of nail biting and so well written you truly get immersed this world of espionage.
Plus it's very unique that in each chapter a type of food is brought up, such as "they discussed the plans over Sonya's famous (insert dish here)" then they actually would give you the recipe on how to prepare that dish. Don't think the recipes took a long time to explain each took a minute at most.
Glad to be part of the audible community and I hope that my reviews help to choose the right book and share my love of reading.
Although we all have read many "spy books" and besides that Red Sparrow has a bit of parallels with The Hunt for the Red October, it "reads" very realistically and draws the reader in. I loved that each chapter ended with a recipe, I thought it added some "sustenance" to the story line. I couldn't help but think if the author whose CIA background has found truth in this novel, how "bad" is it really out there in the Sparrow world? So, overall the book is great, don't let bad reviews because of the recipes at the end distract you, they add some lightness to the book. The story keeps moving and the characters, although you have "met them before", are good for a few surprises.
Yes, it did. I was well written, made you sympathize with the characters or despise the bad guys. Cliffhanger at the end!
No, I have not, Mr. Bobb did a great job!
The only thing that bothered my about Dominika is that she is also secretly a synesthete who sees sound as colors as well as auras around people that clue her into their mental state. I had a hard time "buying" this. However, if you like spy stories than this book is worth a credit. I enjoyed it and would recommend it.
Absolutely the most engaging spy novel I've read in a long time. As contemporary as today's headlines. Only spy novel I've ever read that made me hungry (you'll get this if you read the book). Outstanding performance makes this a must listen.
really interesting story and characters. great narration. held my interest, and I found myself thinking about the plot between listens.
A forum recommended to read this novel because of the spy craft. There is plenty of that in this novel. It reads very much like its Cold War counterparts. The characters are ok, some very startling. What was a bit a surprise was the sex. However, I guess in the age of sexual explicit novels it is somewhat tame. But, it caught me by surprise. The book has a good pace and it has predictable and some unpredictable events based on current assumptions.
I wish it had been clearer that it was part of a trilogy. I expected an ending to the novel and was really disappointed.
The characters were the most interesting Dialogue was a little cliche at times.
I thought it was flat. It would lull me to sleep.
It's a good story. It's easy to get caught up in the plot. But you can't just read this book. The ending is totally unsatisfying so if you read it, you should plan on reading two more.
This isn't really my genre. You might like it, who knows?
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