Jason Mathews has written a Cold War thriller, Red Sparrow, that is set in modern times. Not to worry, Putin is every bit as creepy a villain as those who were running the show before the fall of the Berlin Wall. The book was hard to put down and had a cast of very interesting and appealing characters in well-chosen settings. There was a female hero, Dominika Egorova, and a lot of sexual tension in addition to the usual spy stuff. While the sex advanced the story, it was sort of a shame that the Egorova was defined as a sexual object. Why is it that all the sexual degradation was inflicted on the woman and only then was she allowed to prevail? The answer is an integral part of the plot, but I couldn’t help wishing that this really interesting woman had been created without resort to to making her a beautiful victim of sadistic sexual abuse. This is a clever book, but it could have been just a little more original. Writers find all sorts of ways to create male heroes who are not sexually abused and subjected to voyeuristic torments, so with a little more effort it ought to be possible to create women heroes with less predictable backgrounds.
Red Sparrow is the first in a series. I like Matthew’s writing, so I am hoping that the next book will be less conventional.