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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars -- Definitely Worth Reading But You'll Need To Be Patient With It!
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review, which follows.

I am an avid reader of thrillers and am particularly a fan of espionage thrillers. So, I figured that Red Sparrow would be "right up my alley." However, the book's slow pace during the first hundred pages kept me undecided as to whether I was liking...
Published 19 months ago by bobbewig

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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spies. And dinner.
This was a very odd reading experience. At a fundamental level this is a spy thriller with a focus on a female Russian agent. And there is a bit of a love story. And, er, there are lots of recipes.

So, to the thriller. Starting with a very strong perspective on our Russian we see her grow into a role as an intelligence agent, mainly due to her incredible...
Published 6 months ago by Nick Brett


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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars 4 1/2 Stars -- Definitely Worth Reading But You'll Need To Be Patient With It!, 11 Jun. 2013
By 
bobbewig (New Jersey, USA) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Hardcover)
I received an ARC of this book from Net Galley and the publisher in return for an honest review, which follows.

I am an avid reader of thrillers and am particularly a fan of espionage thrillers. So, I figured that Red Sparrow would be "right up my alley." However, the book's slow pace during the first hundred pages kept me undecided as to whether I was liking it or not. This is because it took me awhile to get used to the fact that Red Sparrow wasn't going to be a book filled with lots of physical action -- e.g., fist fights, gun fights, killings, dramatic car chases, etc.-- that I've come to expect from books of this type.

Soon after, however, I realized that Red Sparrow is an espionage thriller that is several notches above the typical book in this genre. It is filled with many fully dimensional, credible characters and location descriptions that make you feel that you are there experiencing all of the deceptions, schemes, and double crosses involving the various CIA and Russian intelligence agents and politicians --some of whom are moles for both sides. Further, it becomes quickly obvious that first-time author and former CIA operative, Jason Matthews, really knows his subject matter, as Red Sparrow is filled with an abundance of information about the inner workings within both the U.S. and Russian intelligence organizations that is not only interesting, it serves to create an atmosphere that keeps the reader shaking his/her head in wonder.

As if this isn't enough to entice you to read Red Sparrow, perhaps the following facts will convince you to do so: (1) two of its main characters, CIA agent Nathaniel Nash and Russian agent Dominika Egorova, will stay in your mind long after finishing the book, and will have you looking forward to the author writing at least one more book featuring them to find out what the future holds for them; and (2) its plot is filled with enough twists and turns to keep you guessing as to what happens next, and an ending by which you will most likely be very surprised.

Highly recommended to those thriller readers willing to be patient enough to finish a book that will ultimately make them consider Red Sparrow to be among the better thrillers they are likely to read this year.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Spies. And dinner., 16 July 2014
By 
Nick Brett (Wiltshire, England) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Paperback)
This was a very odd reading experience. At a fundamental level this is a spy thriller with a focus on a female Russian agent. And there is a bit of a love story. And, er, there are lots of recipes.

So, to the thriller. Starting with a very strong perspective on our Russian we see her grow into a role as an intelligence agent, mainly due to her incredible ability to read people and their emotions. She is caught up in Russian politics and then the dark space of spying, honey traps and espionage. The story them takes a direction towards US and Russian mole hunts, very much an intelligence game of chess and out young lady and a young American agent also have key parts to play in that game of deception. So, as a spy story it felt well written, realistic and intelligent with plenty to keep you interested throughout.

This would have been a four star read had it not been for…the recipes. For some utterly bizarre reason the author decided to introduce lots of food into the story and then finish the chapter with the recipe. So in the narrative, you may find a character eating a sandwich and you know that come the end of the chapter you will know more than you ever wanted to about how to make that sandwich. In my humble opinion this was a terrible idea and an utter distraction to the story. When it first occurred I was desperately trying to work out the context with the story and then it appears time and time again and you realise it is just the author having fun. The crime here is that it takes you out of ’the zone’ where you are immersed in a story and the characters. Utterly daft self-indulgence that takes a star off for me.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Excellent plot let down by flawed execution, 6 Feb. 2014
By 
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Paperback)
This debut novel, written by an ex-CIA operative, is concerned with spies and double agents. Though likened to John le Carre such comparisons are lazy and fatuous. The plot is excellent, as are the descriptions of tradecraft, and would merit five stars. But the novel is badly let down by various flaws. For example: the characterisation is so two-dimensional it’s reminiscent of the old cowboy movies in which the good guys (the American spies, system, etc) wear white hats while the bad guys (almost everything and everybody Russian) wear black hats; the romantic subplot is overwrought melodrama lacking any credibility; and, very annoyingly, descriptions of 41 meals are given in order to justify the irrelevant intrusion of a menu at the end of each chapter. The excellent plot is let down by the flawed execution. But, that said, I would probably read the sequel which, given the ending, seems likely to follow.
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7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant!, 24 Jun. 2013
By 
Tiff (West Midlands, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Hardcover)
Red Sparrow is Jason Matthews' debut novel - and it is brilliant! I instantly wanted to read it all over again the second I finished it. It is a USA-v-Russia spy thriller. A fast paced, adrenaline building, edge-of-your-seat read. I LOVED it!

I've never read a book like it and I wouldn't have picked it up from a bookshelf so have discovered a fabulous new genre to read.

CIA operative Nate Nash is undercover in Moscow. He is young, eager to get on and handling one of the CIA's prize double agents - MARBLE.

Dominika Ergorov, former prima ballerina, is a fledgling of spy school and sparrow school as so doubly dangerous. What no-one knows is that she can see the colours of emotions in people - a triple threat. It is Dominika's task to honeytrap the American Nash and discover the identity of the double-agent traitor. So begins a cat and mouse chase. Who will uncover the other's secrets first?

I am not sure if it is usual for spy thrillers to have strong female leads - perhaps more recently due to the Larsson effect. However, I feel Dominika is a great character. Hard, unflinching, sultry, lonely - she's wonderful.

Red Sparrow being a Russian spy thriller contains much Russian language and culture which added to the authenticity and therefore my enjoyment of the book. The character traits were also fascinating and from my experience accurate - well done Mr. Matthews.

A fun aside to this thriller is that it contains recipes - yes, that's right - the recipe for something the characters eat appears at the end of each chapter and as I read I found myself guessing what it would be. I plan to try several of the recipes...delicious!

Red Sparrow is a real page turner - a fabulous debut from Jason Matthews, an ex CIA operative. His knowledge and experience gives the novel an honesty and depth that I'd imagine would be difficult to achieve unless you've been there.

I would recommend Red Sparrow to everyone. Its not typical male adventure thriller genre so ladies, do not be put off, but its publishing date does make it a great Father's Day gift.

I will be looking out for more Jason Matthews books in the future.

A huge thankyou to @Dark_pages for the ARC.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant spy novel - sounding horribly realistic!, 13 Aug. 2013
By 
NJB (Aberdeen, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
I got this book based on an Amazon recommendation based on past purchases etc. Well done to Amazon - I think I enjoyed it more than any other recent read.

The story is about CIA and the Russian intelligence agency with spies on both sides being recruited and caught. The material sounds very authentic - presumably reflecting the author's experience. The storyline was not predictable but without the peculiar but irritating twists that some books contain.

I don't read books quickly, but kept looking forward to picking it up again for the next instalment.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Good but irritating, 13 Oct. 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
A cracking spy yarn, with the central story well told; stretches the bounds of credibility beyond breaking point at times but I do not have a problem with this, as it is, after all, fiction.
However, it would have been a five star read for me except for four irritants, which disrupted my reading of the central story.
First, the recipes - I found this to be very strange - in every chapter people eat one or more things and then, at the end of the chapter, we get the recipe for the thing or one of the things; I found this distracting in a couple of ways: one, instead of concentrating on the story, I found myself wondering which recipe we were going to get; two, the recipes are not detailed enough so, when there was an interesting one, I had to wander off, go online and find a more detailed recipe (I am trying soubise on Thursday and strapatsada on Sunday morning). By the way, Mr Matthews' yiouvetsi is shrimps (that means prawns) cooked with ouzo, which I found quite an interesting concept, but, as far as I can see, the rest of the world thinks yiouvetsi is a dish of beef, lamb or chicken baked with orzo - I like ouzo a lot but am not very keen on orzo.
Second, for me, there is far too much Russian language (with translations) in the text and this seriously disrupted my reading flow; I do not feel a need to know that the Russian for "prostitute" is "prostitutski" or whatever, that the Russian for "pensioner" is "pensionerski" or whatever, that the Russian for "no way" is "gosticki tupyerbumski" or whatever, etc, etc. I suppose I should be glad that Mr Matthews didn't go the whole hog and put the Russian in, as Herbie Kruger might say, acrylic script.
Third, it was all a bit black hat / white hat: all the Russians, except the traitors and mama and papa were evil; all the Americans, except the traitor, one or two idiots and one manipulative, grumpy old git, were epitomes of virtue and goodness; I was particularly uncomfortable with and distracted by the way V V Putin was portrayed as being a seething mass of wickedness and villainy.
Fourth, a fairly minor point and not the authors fault, whilst the proofing is far better than many e-books, one typo, which came up every time, was "fled" instead of "filed": documents were "fled"; people "fled" into and out of rooms - distracting.
Having said all of that, I hope that this is the start of a series and, if it is, look forward to the next book in the series.
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5 of 6 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Cracking title with homage to those who have gone before, 14 Jun. 2013
By 
Gareth Wilson - Falcata Times Blog "Falcata T... - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Hardcover)
There used to be a time in books when someone standing on a street corner smoking a cigarette, would hint more at a Spy thriller rather than some seedy opportunity for some book john to take advantage of so when this title arrived I was not quite so sure what to expect from this author's Spy Thriller release.

Set in modern day Russia, it's a book that not only took its time to bring you into the dark world of not only political double dealing but also high stake missions all round made this a book that was not only hard to put down but also kept you guessing as to the outcomes of each situation alongside wondering how each choice would come back to retaliate on the principle hero.

Its definitely a book that was gripping as well as giving me that wonderful return to the old black and white films of my childhood sat with my grandparents and all round gave me a great feeling of nostalgia. A great book and one that I was more than pleased to have read.
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1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Brilliant........Fantastic, 24 July 2014
This review is from: Red Sparrow (Paperback)
This is an absolutely brilliant spy story. It is rich in detail, utterly convincing and very, very exciting. Whilst the writing is not as good as John Le Carre, the construction of the plot is on a par with The Spy Who Came in from the Cold and the Smiley/Karla trilogy. A totally fascinating insight into the deadly war of espionage fought between the United States and the Russian Federation. Charles Cumming's review in the New York Times is absolutely spot on.
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4.0 out of 5 stars Worth the effort, 16 Sept. 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
This is a slightly odd read. A very good plot, great characters, interesting settings, but with a couple of odd quirks in its style.
Firstly, the recipe at the end of each chapter. I initially thought this kind of cute, but after the first 10 chapters it just needled at me and I skipped reading them.

Secondly, the mixing of Russian words into the dialogue. I couldn't decide if I liked this or not. Occasionally, saying the words did put you right there in the minds of the characters and you could almost hear the words being said. At other times, just a bit annoying and unpronounceable.

Still, giving this four stars despite the quirks - it's worth sticking with it as the story is really a good one.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A real spy story, fantastic unputdownable read., 26 Feb. 2014
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This review is from: Red Sparrow (Kindle Edition)
If you are a fan of Deighton, Cummings, le Carre, Adam Hall or even Ian Fleming read this book! It is brilliant. Everything about it is just great. I have tried the Greek shrimp recipe and it is great. Going to try the Russian cheese wrap thingies next. Read this book it is great and has recipes that are just a bonus.
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