The Kremlin’s Candidate (Red Sparrow Trilogy 03) by Jason Matthew

Product info (from Goodreads):

The novel opens with Russian president Vladimir Putin planning the covert assassination of a high-ranking US official with the intention of replacing him with a mole whom Russian intelligence has cultivated for more than fifteen years.

Catching wind of this plot, Dominika, Nate, and their CIA colleagues must unmask the traitor before he or she is able to reveal that Dominika has been spying for years on behalf of the CIA. Any leak, any misstep, will expose her as a CIA asset and result in a one-way trip to a Moscow execution cellar. Along the way, Matthews, a thirty-three-year veteran of the CIA and winner of the Edgar Award for Best First Novel, sets vivid, unforgettable scenes in Moscow; Washington, DC; Hong Kong; New York; the Sudan; and Turkey, and introduces two cold-blooded killers: Iosip Blokhin, a brilliant Spetsnaz military officer, and Grace Gao, ravishing Chinese spy, master of Kundalini yoga, and Beijing-trained seductress.

Ultimately, the lines of danger converge on the spectacular billion-dollar presidential palace on the Black Sea during a power weekend with Putin’s inner circle. Does Nate sacrifice himself to save Dominika? Does she forfeit herself to protect Nate? Do they go down together?

My impressions:

After watching Red Sparrow, a 2018 movie based on the first part of this series (my review is coming), I was eager to read the book. Still, just my luck – I managed to find the last novel, finishing the series. Undaunted, I started reading, eager to find out what happened to Dominika Yegorova, a Russian James Bond in skirt, and her American paramour.

Well. Of course I was thrilled by the fact that a male author created a female spy who didn’t have to be rescued by male counterparts. In fact, more often than not quite the opposite was true – in this book for example Dominika murders in cold blood three agents who jeopardize her and Nate’s mission and lives and let me tell you, she is not afraid to get dirty hands in the process. What’s more, even if Nate and Domi are in lurve very badly, they sometimes go to bed with other people. Maybe it wasn’t exactly nice but it sounded real, especially that their relationship consisted of two-three short, clandestine meetings a year.

Still it wasn’t enough for me, not nearly enough. The plot was immense, very convoluted, and the book seemed too long. What’s worse, the narration wasn’t smooth – some paragraphs were better, some definitely not as polished as they should be in the final installment of a series. The author quoted a lot of Russian and Polish words, often with awry grammar. The ending was neither here nor there – without spoiling anybody I might only say that primo: it was sad, secundo, it felt as if the author was fishing for a contract for the fourth book.

Final verdict:

A mixed bag of good and bad – still I would recommend this one to all fans of spy novels with female leads like Nikita.

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6 Responses to The Kremlin’s Candidate (Red Sparrow Trilogy 03) by Jason Matthew

  1. blodeuedd says:

    I can’t say I am a spy fan

  2. Carole Rae says:

    Love spies… maybe.

  3. heidenkind says:

    I was obsessed with Nikita when I was in high school. But Red Sparrow (as a film) was kinda meh. I remember I watched it but not much more than that.

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