cover image Red Sparrow

Red Sparrow

Jason Matthews. Scribner, $26.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-4767-0612-2

Matthews’s exceptional first novel will please fans of classic spy fiction. In Moscow, CIA agent Nathaniel Nash is running the most valuable asset in the CIA’s stable, a major general in the SVR, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service. After Nate nearly blows his agent’s cover, Nate’s chief reassigns him to the CIA station in Helsinki. Meanwhile, SVR deputy director Ivan “Vanya” Egorov decides to use his beautiful 25-year-old niece, Dominika Egorova, as bait in a honey trap designed to kill a Russian mobster who has publicly feuded with Prime Minister Vladimir Putin. Dominika likes this assignment well enough to ask her uncle to send her to spy school, where she excels. Diagnosed as a synesthete as a girl, Dominika has an unusual gift: she perceives sounds as colors and can tell if someone is lying by the color of his or her aura. After training, she sets out to find the Russian traitor Nate was running. The author’s 33-year career in the CIA allows him to showcase all the tradecraft and authenticity that readers in this genre demand. Recipes at the end of each chapter for a dish a character has eaten lend a homely culinary touch to the complex, high-stakes plot. 7-city author tour. Agent: Sloan Harris, International Creative Management. (May)