Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews
Nathaniel Nash is a junior CIA “internal op” officer stationed in Moscow. One of his meetings with MARBLE—a major general in the SVR, one of the KGB successors, and also a CIA spy for a very long time—goes wrong. Nash is almost caught by FSB agents, another one of the KGB successors in charge of internal espionage within Russia. Blamed for the close call and putting the life of the spy in danger, Nash is punished by the CIA Chief of Station, and his tour is cut short. Nash’s career is pretty much over, and we’re only in Chapter 2.
Mr. Matthews is a retired CIA officer, and he does an excellent job with descriptions, backstory, and flashbacks. The action scenes ring with authenticity, and the extensive Russian terms throughout the novel bring characters to life with detailed realism. Most characters are introduced along with their backgrounds, which seems like reading their personal file, so we can get to know them better.
Nash is thrown a lifeline when he’s transferred to Helsinki. But SVR is determined to find the CIA asset, and they plan to follow Nash in his new assignment. Enter gorgeous Dominika Egorova, trained in the Sparrow School on how to seduce potential targets. She is dispatched to Helsinki to work Nash and discover the identity of the CIA spy.
How will Nash handle Dominika and her advancements? What will he have to do to protect himself and his asset against her intricate seduction tactics? And in the end who’s playing who in this deadly game of spies?