Matthews, Jason (2013) Red Sparrow. Simon & Schuster. Former ballerina Dominika Egorova is recruited as an intelligence agent, and a seductress, by the Russian Federal Security Service (FSB) and as her first assignment she is tasked with operating against ambitious young CIA officer Nat Nash. Nat handles the American’s most important Russian mole. As Dominika gets closer to Nat she begins to question her career and loyalties. A dangerous and intriguing spy game of double agents and double crosses. Enjoyable espionage noir written by veteran CIA operative. First in a trilogy. Enjoyed the movie also (spoiler: plot varies). Rating: 8.5/10.
Fforde, Katie (2018) A Country Escape. Century. The ever popular champion of the rural romance takes us on a new adventure on a run-down farm in the Cotswolds. Fran is given a year by her ageing relative to turn the farm around so that she may inherit. Fran knows nothing about farming but she knows plenty about producing food and she relishes the challenge, with a little help from her friends. Cosy fun. Rating: 7.5/10.
Matthews, Jason (2015) Palace of Treason. Scribner. In the sequel to Red Sparrow double agent Captain Dominika Egorova’s adventures continue as she confronts the machinations of her murderously jealous and psychotic boss, survives an Iranian assassination attempt, and is confounded by an increasing interest in her by the Russian president. Meanwhile CIA agent Nat Nash is troubleshooting in the wings. Action-packed storytelling. Rating: 8/10.
Callaghan, Helen (2018) Everything is Lies. M. Joseph. When Sophia finds her mother dead and her father near-death the police are convinced it is an attempted murder-suicide. Sophia does not believe her mother would kill herself and sets out to clear her name but as she delves into her mother’s memoir she finds dark secrets and lies. A tense psychological thriller with somewhat unsatisfactory multiple storylines. Rating: 7.5/10.
Merritt, Stephanie (2018) While You Sleep. Harper Collins. Zoe Adams in retreat from her marriage rents the McBride House, on a remote Scottish Island. A century ago a widow and her son died there under mysterious circumstances. The superstitions of the locals and strange disturbing night-time events send Zoe into a fearful spin – is any of it real? Creepy atmospheric gothic thriller, with a super natural twist. Pity about the gratuitous sex scenes, and the cover. Rating: 7.5/10.