Red Sparrow by Jason Matthews

bookshelves: e-book, winter-20152016, dec-2015-free-for-all, russia, russia-moscow, spies, published-2013, debut, finland, finland-helsinki, first-in-series, series, rid-the-world-of-tyrants, betrayal, assassination, bullies, casual-violence, censorship, cold-war-v2, corruption, decline-disintergration-degradation, games-people-play, gangsters, gulp, life-is-cheap-around-here, lifestyles-deathstyles, look-behind-you, mediaeval-mentality, mystery-thriller, newtome-author, oneupmanship, ouch, politics, recreational-homicide, recreational-drugs, revenge, sleazy, totalitarian, tricksy, adventure, contemporary, cult-yah, eye-scorcher, families, fascinating-fayre, food-glorious-food, italy, italy-rome, north-americas, us-washington-dc, greece, greece-athens

Recommended to Bettie☯ by: CLM
Read from September 08 to December 17, 2015

 

How to do The Mendacious: Dec 2015

… and Trump is great, Blatter should get the Nobel, so what if we lied about being in Ukraine and such a shame that black box was broken but the economy is doing well…

Description: In today’s Russia, dominated by Prime Minister Vladimir Putin, state intelligence officer Dominika Egorova struggles to survive in the cast-iron bureaucracy of post-Soviet intelligence. Drafted against her will to become a “Sparrow,” a trained seductress in the service, Dominika is assigned to operate against Nathaniel Nash, a first-tour CIA officer who handles the CIA’s most sensitive penetration of Russian intelligence. The two young intelligence officers, trained in their respective spy schools, collide in a charged atmosphere of tradecraft, deception, and inevitably, a forbidden spiral of carnal attraction that threatens their careers and the security of America’s valuable mole in Moscow. Seeking revenge against her soulless masters, Dominika begins a fatal double life, recruited by the CIA to ferret out a high-level traitor in Washington; hunt down a Russian illegal buried deep in the U.S. military and, against all odds, to return to Moscow as the new-generation penetration of Putin’s intelligence service. Dominika and Nathaniel’s impossible love affair and twisted spy game come to a deadly conclusion in the shocking climax of this electrifying, up-to-the minute spy thriller.

Opening: Twelve hours into his SDR Nathaniel Nash was numb from the waist down. His feet and legs were wooden on the cobblestones of the Moscow side street. It had long since gotten dark as Nate ran the surveillance detection route designed to tickle the belly hairs of surveillance, to stretch them, to get them excited enough to show themselves. There was nothing, not a hint of units swirling, leapfrogging, banging around corners on the streets behind him, no reaction to his moves. Was he black? Or was he being had by a massive team? In the nature of The Game, not seeing coverage felt worse than confirming you were covered in ticks.

Brutally deprived of her calling as ballerina with the Bolshoi, Dominika’s uncle Vanya steps in with a job offer that will ensure her mother can keep her apartment after the sudden death of her husband.

A bunch of folk didn’t appreciate the recipes, where I did, very much for the first third or so, and as I tap away here my Beet Soup is bubbling away in the pot in the kitchen and smells delicious. My pet peeve #1 was the aura thing, it really grated, and turned the mainly credible story into gimmick. #2 – too long, and if all the recipes and food descriptions were removed it would amount to circa 200 pages.

This is not literature but it is good story-telling by one who knows his spy trade and I can’t accuse Matthews of making me loathe Putin and his cronies, I was already there.

When will Mr and Mrs Average Russia get a break – through the centuries it has been consistently terrible for them.

To keep things straight:

MOSCOW
MARBLE: in his sixties, major general in the SVR, which was the successor to the KGB’s First Chief Directorate, the Russian Foreign Intelligence Service, the Kremlin’s overseas spies. MARBLE had been in harness for fourteen years.
Trunk

SVR First Deputy Director: Ivan (Vanya) Dimitrevich Egorov
Alexei Zyuganov (Lyosha)
Dominika Egorova: twenty-five years old, with dark chestnut hair. Niece of Vanya Egorov. The Sparrow of the title.
Dimitri Ustinov: Gangster oligarch
Sergey Matorin: SVR staff officer with the rank of major
V Putin: toxic narcissist

CIA Chief of Station: Gordon Gordoff

NPPD – spy pollen (who knew!)

HELSINKI(where The Game begins)

Tom Forsyth, Chief of Station
Marty Gable- deputy
Tarik – turkish hash house owner
Jaana and Marcus Räikkönen (ARCHIE and VERONICA)

Maxim Volontov, SVR rezident in the Russian Embassy
Marta Yelenova

OLD LADY’S BEET SOUP:
Melt butter in a large pot; add a chopped onion and sauté until translucent; stir in three grated beets and one chopped tomato. Pour in beef stock, vinegar, sugar, salt, and pepper. Broth should be tart and sweet. Bring to a boil, then simmer for an hour. Serve hot with a dollop of sour cream and chopped dill.

MOSCOW AIRPORT CUBAN SANDWICH:
Slice a twelve-inch loaf of Cuban bread partway through lengthwise and fold flat. Drizzle olive oil on outside and slather yellow mustard inside. Layer glazed ham, roast pork, Swiss cheese, and thinly sliced pickles. Close and press for ten minutes in a plancha or between two hot foil-wrapped bricks (heat bricks for an hour in a 500-degree oven). Cut in thirds on the diagonal.

BLINIS SERVED AT VASSILY EGOROV’S WAKE:
Season one cup flour with baking powder and kosher salt. Add milk, egg, and clarified butter, and blend into a smooth batter. Cook a tablespoon of the batter at a time over medium low heat until blini are golden on both sides. Serve topped with red caviar, salmon, crème fraîche, sour cream, and fresh dill.

USTINOV’S RUSTIC PÂTÉ:
Caramelize chicken livers, pancetta, and garlic, then deglaze pan with brandy. Hand-chop mixture with parsley, capers, shallots, lemon zest, lemon juice, and olive oil into a coarse texture. Add additional olive oil. Serve on toast with lemon.

SVR CAFETERIA CHICKEN KIEV
Mix and chill compound butter with garlic, tarragon, lemon juice, and parsley. Pound chicken breasts into wafer-thin cutlets. Roll tightly around thumb-sized pieces of compound butter, tie with twine. Dust with seasoned flour, dip in egg wash, coat with bread crumbs, fry until golden brown.

SVR GOLUBTSI
Blanche cabbage leaves, cook rice. Sauté chopped onions, carrots, and peeled and seeded tomatoes until soft, incorporate with the rice and ground beef. Fold cabbage leaves around two spoons of mixture to form large square envelopes. Fry in butter until brown, then simmer for one hour in stock, tomato sauce, and bay leaves. Serve with reduced sauce and sour cream.

TARIK’S ADANA KEBAB
Purée red bell and hot peppers with salt and olive oil. Add purée to ground lamb, chopped onion, garlic and parsley, finely cubed butter, coriander, cumin, paprika, olive oil, salt, and pepper. Knead and shape into flat kebabs; grill until almost charred. Serve with grilled pide bread and thinly sliced purple onions sprinkled with lemon and sumac.

SPARROW SCHOOL TOKMACH SOUP
Boil coarsely chopped potato, thinly sliced onions, and carrots in beef broth until soft. Add thin noodles and cook until done. Put boiled beef in bottom of bowl and pour broth and vegetables over.

JEAN JACQUES BEEF STEW DIJONNAISE
Season and dust with flour small cubes of beef and brown aggressively. Remove meat. Sauté chopped bacon, diced onion, tomatoes, carrots, potatoes, and thyme until soft. Return meat to pan, cover with beef broth, and simmer until meat is tender. Blend in Dijon mustard, splash of heavy cream; reheat and serve.

SPANISH EMBASSY TORTILLA ESPAÑOLA
Cook seasoned, medium-sliced potatoes and chopped onions in abundant olive oil until soft, then remove and drain. Add beaten eggs to potatoes and onions and return to oiled pan on medium heat until edges and bottom start to brown. Place plate over skillet, invert, then slide tortilla back into pan and cook until golden brown.

KADDO BOWRANI—AFGHAN PUMPKIN
Deeply brown large chunks of peeled sugar pumpkin, cover liberally with sugar, and bake covered in medium oven until tender and caramelized. Serve over thick meat sauce of sautéed ground beef, diced onions, garlic, tomato sauce, and water. Garnish with sauce of drained yogurt, dill, and puréed garlc.

GREEK STRAPATSADA EGGS
In heated olive oil reduce peeled, chopped tomatoes, onions, sugar, salt, and pepper to a thick sauce. Add beaten eggs to the tomatoes and stir vigorously until eggs set into a small, fine curd. Serve with grilled country bread drizzled with olive oil

CAVIAR TORTE
Blend sautéed shallots, crème fraîche, and grated Neufchâtel cheese and pour mixture into a springform pan. Sprinkle with chopped boiled eggs. Spread a thin layer of small-gauge caviar (Ossetra or Sevruga) on top of torte and chill. Unmold and spread on blinis or toast points.

NATE’S VEAL PICATTA
Pound small medallions of veal paper-thin. Season and quickly sauté in butter and oil until golden. Remove and cover. Deglaze pan with dry white wine and lemon juice, boil to reduce. Lower heat, add thin lemon slices, capers, and cold butter. Gently simmer to a thick reduction (do not bring back to a boil). Return medallions to sauce to warm.

MARTA’S LAST MEAL—PYTT I PANNA
In foaming butter, separately and aggressively brown cubed beef, potatoes, and diced onions until crisp. Incorporate ingredients in the skillet with additional butter, season and reheat. Form a well in the mixture, and break a raw egg into it. Stir the egg into the hash before serving.

ROGAN JOSH
In a mortar, roughly grind chopped onions, ginger, chili, cardamom, clove, coriander, paprika, cumin, and salt into a smooth paste. Add bay and cinnamon. Add heated clarified butter. Cook until fragrant. Add cubed pieces of lamb, stir in yogurt, warm water, and pepper. Bake in medium oven for two hours. Sprinkle with coriander.

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