Moscow Sting, by: Alex Dryden is a standard Russians vs. the United States spy novel, set in modern-day Putin times, instead of the 1980's "Cold War." I have read quite a few spy novels of this type, including those by the famous Leon Uris.
I have to say, right off the bat, if you haven't read this novel's predecessor, Red to Black: A Novel, by the same author, and you are not already emotionally invested in the same cast of main characters -- then the build up at the beginning of this book is going to take a WHILE.
The main event doesn't really get under way until about 60 pages from the end, and the action for the main event doesn't really get going until about 35 pages from the end. In other words, you spend about 300 pages just watching characters talk about what is essentially a fairly simple problem set. The author desperately attempts to make us feel sympathy for a conflicted/sleazy ex-CIA character (Logan), and the author also tries very hard to get us to get a case of Stockholm syndrome for the main female character (Anna)'s captor, Burt. Burt is always portrayed as fatherly, all knowing, kind-but-firm, rich and powerful and generous, and protective, and on the right side of the spirit of the law. I wasn't really falling for it. Since we the reader knew Logan's M.O. from the get-go of the story, and we also know how Burt operates, I was never able to sympathize with them, and I was rather disgusted with the bit of Stockholm syndrome Anna displayed near the end, especially concerning her behavior with Logan. As Burt was her actual captor, and she didn't have much choice, I can partially excuse her behavior with him (which, oddly, was much less cooperative than with Logan).
There is also a rather confusing side-story going on with a character known known as Lars, who is a long-distance sniper. We see him perform two complicated kills, near the middle of the first third of the book, and then we don't see mention of him again until almost the end. I had completely forgotten about him, and at first didn't recognize the name when it came up again. The way his story is tied up is done quickly, and without much explanation, or proof to back up the assertions given (I am trying not to give spoilers here, but it is hard).
Overall, when you get to those final 60 pages, the story is rolling, you are invested, and you need to find out what happens. It is a page turner from about page 300 onward. I will say that I was a bit disappointed with the spy trap that was employed to effect the major turn of events in the climax of the story -- very standard spy novel stuff -- but overall the book was still a good read. I am going to go ahead and pick up Red to Black: A Novel now, and fill myself in on the back story.
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About the reviewer
R. McAdams (rmcadams)
Computer programmer and information security and computer forensics professional. Bachelor of Science in Computer Science with a minor in Information Security and Computer Forensics. … more
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