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Red Sparrow: A Novel by Jason Matthews
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Red Sparrow: A Novel (original 2013; edition 2013)

by Jason Matthews

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8093316,680 (3.91)27
Member:adamtyoung
Title:Red Sparrow: A Novel
Authors:Jason Matthews
Info:Scribner (2013), Edition: 0, Hardcover, 448 pages
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Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews (2013)

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» See also 27 mentions

Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
This was a little slow-going for a spy "thriller." The action was very plodding for most of the book, and there was very little actual suspense, moments where the reader holds her breath, and very little intrigue. Things are laid out quite nicely. The recipes at the end of each chapter are a little bizarre. The protagonist's synesthesia was unnecessary and took away a little of her validation as an excellent character reader. If you like inside baseball on how the CIA works, this is a book for you. If you're looking for a thriller, not so much. ( )
  ChayaLovesToRead | Sep 26, 2018 |
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. ( )
  thewanderingjew | Sep 18, 2018 |
What an enthralling spy novel, involving a Russian, Dominika Igarova, and an American, Nathaniel (Nate) Nash. The plotting is very involved with there being "moles" on both the American and Russian sides, with much of the story concerning tracking down who they are, as well as setting up an international relationship between Dominika and Nate.
Dominika is the "Red Sparrow" of the title and much of the early part of the book relates her translation from very promising ballerina to a highly rated intelligence operative. This includes her training, the description of which is not only fascinating, but also at times rather harrowing, particularly her time at what is described as "whore school", participants there learning the skills of honey traps and more. The background research is very detailed, probably due to the fact that the author worked for the CIA for a considerable length of time.
Dominika also has the ability to discern coloured auras (halos) around people, enabling her to have a pretty good idea of whether or not she can trust them, if they are telling the truth or not, and so foresee devious planning. It is a skill which she uses to great effect, and one which enables the reader (or listener in my case) to understand the plotting better. This is very useful as it is a long and complicated novel.
I thoroughly enjoyed the intricacy of the story, my only complaint would be that the end of each chapter is a recipe for something eaten or mentioned in that chapter. I was not sufficiently attracted to any of them to want to cook them! ( )
  Alan1946 | Sep 3, 2018 |
Couldn't figure out whether I was reading a damn cookbook, a sleazy romance, or a spy novel. ( )
  knp4597 | Aug 10, 2018 |
Great spy read.
Very well written, good characters and I liked the ending. Really a don’t want to put down novel.
I have already ordered the sequel and plan to continue to read this author. ( )
  KarenHerndon | Jul 15, 2018 |
Showing 1-5 of 33 (next | show all)
Although Matthews may have a rose-tinted view of the C.I.A., he is terrifically good on the turf wars and enervating bureaucracy of espionage. There are several digs at the F.B.I. — including an operation in Finland botched by the excitable feds — which his former colleagues will doubtless cheer to the rafters.
 

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To Suzanne, Alexandra, and Sophia
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Twelve hours into his SDR Nathaniel Nash was numb from the waist down.
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Book description
Russian and American intelligence agencies in the age of Putin are more complex and no less deadly than past cold wars. In this entanglement of a young CIA agent and the well connected brilliant woman he is assigned to recruit, manipulation by the puppet masters in Moscow and handlers from Washington complicate the intrigue enormously. A serious glimpse from an author with experience in counterintelligence and detail about tradecraft.
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Drafted against her will to serve the regime of Vladimir Putin as an intelligence seductress, Dominika Egorova engages in a charged effort of deception and tradecraft with first-tour CIA officer Nathaniel Nash before a forbidden attraction threatens their careers.… (more)

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