cover image The Kremlin’s Candidate

The Kremlin’s Candidate

Jason Matthews. Scribner, $26.99 (448p) ISBN 978-1-5011-4008-2

The next CIA director could well be U.S. admiral Audrey Rowland, a mole working for the Russians, in bestseller Matthews’s stellar conclusion to his Red Sparrow trilogy. If selected, Rowland would learn the identity of Diva, the code name for Gen. Dominika Egorova, a spy for the Americans who has caught Vladimir Putin’s eye and is on track to head the SVR, Russia’s foreign intelligence service. The action shifts among such exotic locales as Istanbul, Khartoum, Hong Kong, and Putin’s compound on the Black Sea, where CIA agent Nate Nash goes undercover on a daring mission to prevent Dominika’s exposure. Dominika and Nate’s romance, which has been smoldering since they parted ways at the end of 2015’s Palace of Treason, creates complications. Meanwhile, back in the States, the CIA operation planners must contend with hostile politicians seeking to end the dirty, underhanded methods the agency uses against the country’s enemies. Matthews, a 33-year CIA veteran, provides a chilling portrait of the cold-blooded Putin, while saying almost nothing about the fictional current and previous U.S. presidents, in a suspenseful thriller that races to a heart-pounding and unexpected resolution. The March release of the film version of the first in the series, Red Sparrow, starring Jennifer Lawrence, is bound to give a boost. Agent: Sloan Harris, ICM. (Feb.)