RED SPARROW: A Rare Bird Indeed
RED SPARROW by Jason Matthews is the best spy thriller I’ve read in ages.
Matthews spent a career inside the CIA and his knowledge of the insider lore and lingo sets this story apart. And that, by itself, would make this a stand-out spy thriller. But Matthews also is a great writer of characters. Each has his or her own distinctive voice. He also can be funny; a gift given to few thriller writers these days.
If I have a caveat — and it’s a minor one — it’s a bit of business that Matthews throws into the end of every chapter. I won’t tell the reader what that schtick is, but I will say that I spent half of the book assuming that these odd little addenda to every chapter would pay off somehow. That they had a purpose (like a cypher that would add to the plot). Nope. It’s just a schtick. And it’s distracting.
But the three elements of a great story are plot, character and setting (and pace as Number 4, I’d argue), and Matthews delivers those in spades.
This one is well-worth reading.