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Red Sparrow: A Novel [Hardcover]

Jason Matthews
4.0 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
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Book Description

June 4 2013
“A great and dangerous spy-game is being played today between Russian intelligence and the CIA. Very few people know about it, but Jason Matthews does, and his thrilling Red Sparrow takes us deep inside this treacherous world. He’s an insider’s insider. And he is also a masterful storyteller. I loved this book and could not put it down. Neither will you.” —Vince Flynn

In the grand spy-tale tradition of John le Carré…comes this shocking thriller written with insider detail known only to a veteran CIA officer.

In present-day Russia, ruled by blue-eyed, unblinking President Vladimir Putin, Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the post-Soviet intelligence jungle. Ordered against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a young CIA officer who handles the Agency’s most important Russian mole.

As the action careens between Russia, Finland, Greece, Italy, and the United States, Dominika and Nate soon collide in a duel of wills, tradecraft, and—inevitably—forbidden passion that threatens not just their lives but those of others as well. As secret allegiances are made and broken, Dominika and Nate’s game reaches a deadly crossroads. Soon one of them begins a dangerous double existence in a life-and-death operation that consumes intelligence agencies from Moscow to Washington, DC.

Page by page, veteran CIA officer Jason Matthews’s Red Sparrow delights, terrifies and fascinates, all while delivering an unforgettable cast, from a sadistic Spetsnaz “mechanic” who carries out Putin’s murderous schemes to the weary CIA Station Chief who resists Washington “cake-eaters”. Packed with insider detail, this novel brims with Matthews’s life experience of espionage, counterintelligence, spy recruitment, and cyber-warfare. Brilliantly composed, Red Sparrow is a masterful spy tale. Authentic, tense, and entertaining, this novel introduces Jason Matthews as a major new American talent.

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Review

"A primer in 21st-century spying. Matthews' former foes in Moscow will be choking on their blinis when they read how much has been revealed about their tradecraft...terrifically good." (The New York Times Book Review)

“Veteran CIA operative-turned-novelist Matthews keeps the trouble popping in Red Sparrow, but relentless drama is just one of the high points of this sublime and sophisticated debut… Red Sparrow isn’t just a fast-paced thriller — it’s a first-rate novel as noteworthy for its superior style as for its gripping depiction of a secretive world. While many former CIA agents and MI6 operatives have turned to writing fiction in retirement, Matthews joins a select few who seem as strong at their second careers as at their first.” (Art Taylor The Washington Post)

"Jason Matthews, who became an authority on the Kremlin during his 33 years as a CIA operations officer, has written an espionage novel, Red Sparrow, in which Putin makes a cameo -- read it and you too may conclude that no one on the planet knows the Russian president better. You too may also conclude that Red Sparrow is the best espionage novel you've ever read." (Keith Thomson Huffington Post)

"Fans of the genre's masters including John Le Carre and Ian Fleming will happily embrace Matthews' central spy." (USA Today)

“Many spy novelists, including Ian Fleming and John le Carré, actually worked as intelligence agents. Add to that list Jason Matthews, whose 33 years as a CIA field operative enriches his first novel with startling verisimilitude…That sense of authenticity, along with vividly drawn characters, much detail about tradecraft, and an appropriately convoluted plot make this a compelling and propulsive tale of spy-versus-spy…Red Sparrow is greater than the sum of its fine parts. Espionage aficionados will love this one.” (Booklist, starred review)

“The author, a veteran CIA field agent, liberally salts his thriller with realistic tradecraft, horrific villainy, and stunning plot twists as the opponents vie for control…An intense descent into a vortex of carnal passion, career brutality, and smart tradecraft, this thriller evokes the great Cold War era of espionage…Readers of bloodthirsty spy and suspense will welcome this debut from a writer who supersizes his spies.” (Library Journal (starred review))

"This debut novel from a 33-year CIA veteran delivers action as pulse-pounding as it is authentic." (New York Post)

“Matthews’s exceptional first novel will please fans of classic spy fiction…The author’s 33-year career in the CIA allows him to showcase all the tradecraft and authenticity that readers in this genre demand…[a] complex, high-stakes plot.” (Publishers Weekly, starred review)

“Matthews’ first novel, a globe-trotting spy thriller, features enough action to satisfy even the most demanding of adrenaline junkies…The author’s CIA background and the smart dialogue make this an entertaining tale for spy-novel enthusiasts.” (Kirkus)

"Not since the good old days of the Cold War has a classic spy thriller like RED SPARROW come along. Jason Matthews is not making it up; he has lived this life and this story, and it shows on every page. High-level espionage, pulse-pounding danger, sex, double agents and double crosses. What more can any reader want?" (Nelson DeMille)

“A great and dangerous spy-game is being played today between Russian intelligence and the CIA. Very few people know about it, including many of our politicians in Washington. But Jason Matthews does, and his thrilling Red Sparrow takes us deep inside this treacherous world. He’s an insider’s insider. He knows the secrets. And he is also a masterful story-teller. I loved this book and could not put it down. Neither will you.” (Vince Flynn)

“I read till eleven and woke up at five a.m. to finish this book. If it doesn’t supplant The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo as the next mammoth read, ad if it doesn’t take its place alongside le Carré’s The Spy Who Came in from the Cold, the love of literature and jaw-dropping thrills really is dead. I learned more about the former Soviets and the new Russians, and about our US of A, than I ever gleaned from the hardest-working journalists today. Halfway through, I was afraid Vladimir Putin would find out I was reading Red Sparrow and have me arrested. I have not read a more exciting, gripping novel in a long time.” (Doug Stanton author of Horse Soldiers)

"All the tradecraft and cat-and-mouse tension of a classic spy thriller— a terrific read." (Joseph Kanon author of Instanbul)

About the Author

Jason Matthews is a retired officer in CIA’s former Operations Directorate, now the National Clandestine Service. Over a thirty-three-year career he served in multiple overseas locations and engaged in clandestine collection of national security intelligence, specializing in denied area operations. He lives in Southern California. Red Sparrow won the 2014 Edgar and the International Thriller Writers awards for Best First Novel.

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Customer Reviews

Most helpful customer reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
By harry
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews is one of the best novels I have ever read. No trivial chatter to fill space. Every piece of dialogue was appropriate. The plot was obviously crafted by someone who had had personal experience in the spook game. I am ready for some more thrilling reads from Jason Matthews.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars good but... Feb. 18 2014
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Great HUMINT tradecraft and a nice convoluted story. However, motivation was not entirely believable.... I was also put off by the sloppy use of Russian words, plus...why use Russian words? Didn't add anything for me, just a distraction. But if you meed to, make sure you get them right. And the recipes at the end of each chapter - an unnecessary affectation.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Good spy thriller. May 8 2014
Format:Kindle Edition
Odd mix of a very good spy thriller and cook book. Yes, really. I am actually looking forward to trying out the recipes in the book. The only negative is that the Russian villains are too stock Cold War.
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5.0 out of 5 stars GREAT TITLE April 4 2014
Format:Hardcover|Verified Purchase
WONDERFUL. SUSPENSEFUL. INSIGHTFUL.

A GREAT READ. I CAN'T WAIT FOR J.M. 'S NEXT NOVEL

A PERFECT FOR THE POLITICAL CLIMATE WE FACE TODAY.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Buy this book July 30 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A seriously strong first book by an author who both knows the trade craft and how to write. (Well it sounds like he knows the trade craft!)

My #1 fiction pick for 2013 to date.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Red Sparrow July 25 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
A great first book effort, although was longer than it should have been Good story about an interesting time in the intelligence entrapment business,
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