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Would you listen to Palace of Treason again? Why?
Jason Matthews' prose is at times almost poetic. He strings beautiful words around compelling characters with plots that wrap ever tighter. This second novel is even better than his first, Red Sparrow, and Jeremy Bobb's narration continues to be outstanding. Mr. Matthews has built a terrific franchise with this cast of characters, and I look forward to consuming anything else he publishes. The combination of outstanding writing around the classic spy genre provides great pleasure.
5 of 5 people found this review helpful
Everything I wrote in my 6/13 review of Red Sparrow (Matthews' debut novel featuring the synesthete seductress Dominika) I could copy and paste here...another sassy clever spy novel from a man that knows the business. So well does Matthews know this business of Spy vs. Spy that it makes for some intriguing reading between the lines; you might find yourself reading along, thinking no way some of this stuff could possibly happen in *real life* -- then suddenly realizing that Matthews is the *real life* with over 30 years deep in the CIA. That's very different, and possible proof that the truth really is stranger than fiction?
As noted by others, there is more sex, and more recipes. You may again yearn for an accompanying cookbook while you stock up on cabbages, beets, onions, garlic, horseradish, and sour cream; but, frankly, my attention was diverted a couple of times wondering where to-go-to for the definition of some of the (a-hem) sexual maneuvers employed by Dominika and her fellow Sparrow School graduates. (Maybe I'll tweet Matthews for some explanations.) The recipes were a speed bump for some readers with both Red Sparrow and this book, but they provide an olfactory identification with the territory that descriptors alone just can't do. You walk into the Kremlin, and the smell of mushrooms, garlic, and cabbage fills your senses, and immerses you in the moment. Add to that Dominika's synthete perceptions of a character's personality and intentions -- Matthews cleverly pulls you into 3-D reading.
It's just pure fun watching Matthews manipulate Putin! Like a voodoo master, he controls the Russian President's every move and every thought, subtly suggesting perhaps some ego issues, as well as physical prevarications. Matthews has said in interviews that a new Cold War is going on right now. As an author, he obviously knows the pen just might be as mighty as the sword. (Would love to read a review of this book by Putin ☺.)
The reason for a downgrade of one star from Red Sparrow...the characters were a little black and white; all the good guys were stereotypical white hatted GOOD and good-looking guys, and all the no-good-niks were black hatted and black-souled (and then there is the moose-ish catatonic female Russian agent from central casting...). Maybe that's the way Matthews found it out in the *real world*, but it emphasized the fiction here, and while Putin is a character at times, he unfortunately isn't just a figment of imagination that mashes into Matthews manipulations of fiction harmoniously. The plot is a little harder to follow, but still top notch spy material. A solid showing that won't disappoint fans of Red Sparrow.
32 of 38 people found this review helpful