An overall great Read that Kept me Guessing and Made Me feel Like I've had a Peek Inside the World of International Espionage
The book is not perfect and I'll confess there was a point where I questioned my Professor's recommendation but by the time I closed the last page, I can say I wholeheartedly agree. This is a true classic spy thriller written by an author (33 years with the CIA) who is clearly the real deal. Anyone who enjoys espionage or books of intrigue will, in all likelihood, love this book. One of the best things about Red Sparrow, it literally gets better and better and better the further you read, and I have to say I felt as if I have spent much of the past week traveling between DC, Eastern Europe and Russia.
The opening of the book is superb as it involves some tradecraft between a CIA handler, Nate, and his agent, a high level Russian mole, who meet clandestinely on the streets of Moscow. As I began reading the book, I began to feel that it was going to be a winner.
After the initial opening in Moscow, we're introduced to the female protagonist Egarova. I immediately liked her story and it was clear from the way Matthews wrote it that he has a gift for creating interesting characters. As a side note, I think it's safe to say that one of the things that makes Red Sparrow so interesting is that every character is interesting. Even the smallest of ones are interesting. I can't think of any author who does this better.
But after we are introduced to the main characters, I thought the book flagged a little bit as we find out about Russia's Sparrow School and when Nate and Egarova first meet. I thought this part of the book was slow moving. But, at about page 90 to 100, it was as if a switch was turned back on and the novel began to soar, climbing higher each section until a wonderful crescendo.
Pacing was excellent, the plot was completely unpredictable, and Matthews wraps it all up in a way that is authentic, credible, and masterful.
One of my favorite parts was the way Matthews was able to create such great imagery whether it be CIA HQ, Moscow's secret service HQ, or a tony Inn near Georgetown.
A brilliant book that is worthy of all the praise it has received.
I'm a major John Le Carre fan, and this book is as good as any of his. If you're looking for a great read that will make you feel like you're part of a counter-intelligence operation, you will enjoy Red Sparrow.