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Moscow Sting (Anna Rensikov) Mass Market Paperback – December 27, 2011

4.2 out of 5 stars 89 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

*Starred Review* Dryden follows up his superb debut, Red to Black (2009), with a riveting sequel. British spy Finn, who uncovered a Russian plan to control Europe's access to oil and natural gas, is dead, murdered by a KGB-trained Russian criminal. Anna, the beautiful KGB colonel assigned to seduce Finn, but who fell in love with him instead, is in hiding, raising her son, Little Finn. In the post-Bush era, both the U.S. and Britain have realized that Finn was right: Vladimir Putin is an enemy. Now they want Finn's source, a Kremlin insider known only as Mikhail. MI6 also wants revenge for Finn's murder. The Russians want Anna for her betrayal. Anna wants to shield Mikhail and keep herself and her son alive. Machinations by all the principals ensue, and Dryden, a longtime student of Russia and the world of intelligence, tosses a new player into the mix: Cougar, a private intelligence company run by Burt Miller, a former CIA spook extraordinaire. The larger-than-life Miller schemes against the CIA, MI6, the Russians, and Cougar's corporate competitors to hold on to Anna and reel in Mikhail. Red to Black reinvigorated the classic Cold War espionage genre. Moscow Sting—with its clever, devious, conflicted characters; its tension and verisimilitude; and its complex but fully plausible plot—is every bit as good. --Thomas Gaughan --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.

Review

“Moscow Sting suggests [Dryden] has finished the crossover from journalist to full-fledged thriller writer. Keep an eye on Dryden. If he continues to infuse the genre with serious political insights and warnings, he could be the next John le Carré.” (Richmond Times-Dispatch)

“MOSCOW STING is a gripping, action-packed insider’s view of modern day espionage with a clever twist at the end. Ex-KGB Colonel Anna Resnikov is a terrific heroine, who I hope will return with future adventures.” (Phillip Margolin, New York Times bestselling author of SUPREME JUSTICE)

“Engaging and fast-paced thriller.” (World Magazine)

“Dryden follows up his superb debut, Red to Black (2009), with a riveting sequel... Red to Black reinvigorated the classic Cold War espionage genre. Moscow Sting, with its clever, devious, conflicted characters, its tension and verisimilitude, and its complex but fully plausible plot, is every bit as good.” (Booklist (starred review))

“Alex Dryden is a writer who can please everyone from fans of old LeCarre to students of current affairs. MOSCOW STING is a thought-provoking and entertaining follow up to the terrific Red to Black. No sophomore slump here.” (James Grippando, New York Times bestselling author of MONEY TO BURN)

“This follow-up to Dryden’s debut thriller, RED TO BLACK, is a rarity: a sequel as good as its exceptional predecessor... An exceptional spy story. Boy, is this good!” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))

“Pseudonymous Brit journalist Dryden is back with another fine neo-Cold War spy thriller, the sequel to RED TO BLACK (2009)…This book stylishly carries the story forward…A twisty, persuasive, action-packed thriller.” (Kirkus Reviews)

“Hands down, one of the most convincing spy stories you’ll ever read.” (Lisa Black, author of TRAIL OF BLOOD)
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Product Details

  • Series: Anna Rensikov (Book 2)
  • Mass Market Paperback: 480 pages
  • Publisher: Harper; Reprint edition (December 27, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 9780062086259
  • ISBN-13: 978-0062086259
  • ASIN: 0062086251
  • Product Dimensions: 4.2 x 1.1 x 7.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (89 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,503,459 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
This is the sequel to Red to Black: A Novel, which I had not read. You don't need to have read the first book to understand this one, but reading Moscow Sting likely will spoil the events of Red to Black. (For that matter, reading the plot summary of the second book probably spoils the first one.)

Anna is a former KGB colonel who defected to marry the British spy she was assigned to monitor. Her husband was killed by the KGB before the opening of the book and she is in hiding with her young son. The British, Americans and Russians all want her because they believe she is the only one who knows the identity of "Mikhail," who provided her late husband with Russian intelligence. An American private intelligence company gets to her first and a significant portion of the book involves the process of working her to disclose his identity and contact him to make him an American intelligence asset.

This book was OK for me but it didn't have the suspenseful tension that makes for a truly compelling espionage novel. The author has filled it with a lot of information about the politics of the spy business -- the use of private intelligence companies, the KGB's control of Russian business enterprises, political "horse trading" between the countries. But he tells it to the reader in a way that makes it just so many facts. (I'm assuming he has done the research to make it accurate.) Another thing that made the book less exciting is that it felt fairly believable. The Americans holding Anna didn't torture or drug her to get the information -- they interviewed her. Endlessly. And, with one exception, there aren't gun battles or wild chase scenes.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Alex Dryden's "Moscow Sting" follows hard on the heels of Dryden's "Red to Black." In that complex, poignant novel, Russian spy Anna tracks down her beloved Finn (a jaded former MI-6 agent no longer in favor in London). "RtoB" builds to a heartbreaking climax as Finn is poisoned for being unwilling to abandon the truth as he saw it, even when the masters on both sides of the game wanted him to back off.

"Moscow Sting" sees Anna in seclusion with her son, Finn. Still grieving over Finn's demise, she is trying to rebuild a structure of normalcy so she can face the day without grief.

Unfortunately, the gorgeous Russian commands a high market value, and there are plenty of parties willing to pay.

Her location is revealed, and soon the Americans, the Brits, and the Russians are all racing to find her - some to protect her, others for what she can offer them, and others for revenge.

Soon she is under the seemingly-affectionate care of Burt, a former CIA genius who now has his own private intelligence company, Cougar. But can she trust Burt, or is he merely using her as a bargaining chip to build Cougar's fortunes? And even if she trusts Burt, what can she do when the Russians will stop at nothing for her? And what will she do when the British spymaster Adrian demands Burt reveal Anna to him so Adrian can avenge Finn's death?

This is another complex book of loyalty and trust, wrapped around a sterling spy novel chock-full of tradecraft, assassinations, and covert espionage. Dryden injects even the most innocuous conversation with sufficient subtext that the reader is swept away on tides of paranoia, where a chuckle can mask - or reveal - either murderous intent or the appreciation of a good joke.
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Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
(Note: I haven't read the previous book in the series, Red to Black: A Novel, which introduces Anna Resnikov to the literary espionage genre, so perhaps I've missed something compelling in the back story. But, as a character is supposed to develop over installments, I suspect I haven't.)

Anna Resnikov was a former colonel in the KGB's foreign intelligence service. Assigned to get close to an MI6 agent named Finn, she has the bad form to fall in love with, marry, and have a child by him. Oh, and she defects to the West. Then, the Russians kill Finn and Anna is on the run.

Here in MOSCOW STING, Anna is being hunted by the Americans, the British, and the Russians. Before Finn's death, Resnikov learned the identity of a mole, "Mikhail", deep within the Kremlin hierarchy, otherwise known only to Finn, his case officer. Now, two years later, MI6 seeks Anna as the conduit to re-establish contact with Mikhail because he was theirs. The CIA wants Anna for the same reason because Mikhail, well, is just too good a HUMINT opportunity to pass up. And the KGB, while not knowing of Mikhail, wants Anna for the torture chamber and execution block. Resnikov, on the other hand, while conceptually willing to continue working with the Western spy agencies, is determined to protect Mikhail's identity and make the approach to him on her terms or not at all. It's Anna's wits pitted against everyone, friend and foe alike - and mostly friend.

There are two major problems with Anna as author Alex Dryden's protagonist that force me to award less than five stars. Three is what I eventually decided upon after some internal mental debate that argued for four.
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