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The Fall of Moscow Station

by Mark Henshaw

Series: Red Cell (3)

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433450,376 (3.83)4
When the Moscow Station is left in ruins after a major intelligence breach, CIA analyst Jonathan Burke and agent Kyra Stryker are fast on the trail of Alden Maines, an upper-level CIA officer whose defection coincides with the murder of the director of Russia's Foundation for Advanced Nuclear Research.… (more)

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The Fall of Moscow Station is the first of the Stryker/Burke series by Mark Henshaw I've read, so I'm out of sequence already. I plan to cycle through the earlier episodes, but I had a few fundamental problems with this novel. I'll get into those later.

Henshaw is a former CIA analyst. As usual with thrillers written by ex-spies, the best part for me is the almost chess-like thinking of several moves ahead, as well as the thought process that goes into interpreting the actions of counterparts on the opposing team. Henshaw does nicely in that regard, and there are numerous opportunities since the action in non-stop. The plot is pretty intricate: a disgruntled CIA spy decides to defect to the Russians at their embassy in Germany. An effort to grab him back before he burns all of the CIA's Russian assets is undertaken by the CIA, and it escalates from there.

The writing is fairly pedestrian. Henshaw is no John LeCarre, Robert Littell, or even Charles Cumming, but he gets the job done. The dialogue is decent and believable, and the plot is action-packed but, in the end, a bit unbelievable. Here are a examples why (SPOILER ALERT!!!!):
- CIA's Kara Stryker talks her way into the Russian embassy and is actually allowed to have a private conversation with the spy who defected. I doubt that would ever happen.
- During her conversation with the defector, she agrees to a plan to communicate his demands to the president of the US and also agrees to a method on how to signal the result of her conversation to the defector. Of course, the Russians electronically overheard the entire conversation. Why 2 experienced CIA employees thought they could have a private conversation in what is probably one of the most electronically engaged facilities in the world is just mind boggling.
- The conclusion is just not very realistic. The good guys win, of course, but how it happened just doesn't pass the smell test.

All in all, a decent read if you look past the obvious issues. ( )
  gmmartz | Jun 21, 2016 |
Overall, I enjoyed this book, but I felt that a few of the elements didn't fit together well. The book is different from the previous two in that we the story is more tightly focused on one character. I guess my biggest complaints would be that a few elements seemed sort of ... um ... really? and the last quarter of the book felt a bit rushed. ( )
  MSWallack | Mar 23, 2016 |
This third book in author Mark Henshaw's The Red Cell series, is a heart-pounding, suspense-filled story of Russian & American covert ops at their finest. When greed tantalizes, corruption often results. This yarn is well spun given Henshaw's imaginative premise and his well honed craft of fine writing. The book's heroine, agent Kyra Stryker, is bold, audacious and brilliant in her role. However, running a solo operation in a foreign country, the language of which you do not know, might not be the brightest career move. Yet, so much hung in the balance. This is fast-paced all the way to the very end leaving the reader with lingering thoughts on the nature of the balance of power and effecting equilibrium in the world.

I am grateful to publisher Touchstone and Goodreads First Reads for having provided a free copy of this book. Their generosity, however, did not influence this review - the words of which are mine alone.

Synopsis (from book's dust jacket):
When a body with Russian military tattoos is found floating in a lake outside Berlin, the CIA immediately takes notice. The body is identified as the director of Russia’s Foundation for Advanced Nuclear Research, who is also a CIA asset. And the murder coincides with the defection of one of the CIA’s upper-level officers.

Alden Maines is jaded after years in the CIA cleaning up the messes of incompetent political appointees in dangerous foreign posts. When he is passed over for promotion, Maines crosses the Rubicon and decides to cash in as a double agent for Russia.

But while Maines dreams of off-shore bank accounts and a new secret life, Arkady Lavrov of Russia’s intelligence service (GRU) has other plans. He immediately announces Maines’s defection to the world and then pumps him for every last ounce of intel, including the names of every agent in the CIA’s Moscow Station and their assets working in the Kremlin. But why would Lavrov burn an asset whose intel and access could pay dividends for years to come? What is Lavrov up to?

Traveling from Langley to Berlin and finally Moscow—working black without backup—analyst Jonathan Burke and agent Kyra Stryker are up against their most formidable enemy yet, and their lives and the fate of America’s most important assets in the New Cold War hang in the balance. ( )
  KateBaxter | Mar 10, 2016 |
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When the Moscow Station is left in ruins after a major intelligence breach, CIA analyst Jonathan Burke and agent Kyra Stryker are fast on the trail of Alden Maines, an upper-level CIA officer whose defection coincides with the murder of the director of Russia's Foundation for Advanced Nuclear Research.

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