20 October 2015
Jason Matthews: Palace of Treason
Red Sparrow was one of my best reads in 2013. It was an "outstanding, exciting, chilling espionage thriller" and the sequel Palace of Treason meets the same bill, if not more so.
The Red Sparrow, Dominika Egorova of the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the SVR, is now back in Moscow after a spy exchange went badly wrong and the CIA spy she was swapped for was assassinated. She has survived lengthy and sometimes violent interrogations about her capture by the CIA and has been promoted to Captain after her ordeal.
Dominika loathes the people she serves in the SVR, who are mostly thugs and supporters of Putin's Russia, especially her boss Alexai Zyuganov, a murderously psychotic former KGB operative who still loves his "work" in the cellars of Lubyanka prison. Nobody in Russia knows that she is now also working for the CIA as Washington's top Russian mole. What makes it more interesting and dangerous is that she had an intimate relationship with her CIA handler Nate Nash.
This top-notch espionage thriller has everything - double-agents, betrayal, violence, great street-craft (avoiding surveillance), revenge, blackmail, and murder. The locations range from Moscow to St Petersberg, Athens, Paris and of course Washington. Again it is an outstanding, exciting, chilling, and page-turning espionage thriller. Add some romantic interludes between Dominika and Nate and the pages sizzle.
The author is very brave to bring current affairs to life, especially the inclusion of Vladimir Putin in the plot (the imaginary bedroom scene between Putin and Dominika is especially memorable and totally unguessable). The book is "authentic" because Jason Matthews had real life experiences of the world of spying as he worked for 30 years with the CIA.
I highly recommend this book to anyone who enjoys espionage thrillers. It is already in my short list for my top reads of 2015. While Matthews has written a great back-story about what happened in Red Sparrow, I do strongly recommend that you read that book first.
Unfortunately, readers outside the US region may have to wait until January 2016 for this book to be published in their region.