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Tuesday, June 6, 2023

Review: A Shadow in Moscow

Title: A Shadow in Moscow
Author: Katherine Reay

Publisher: 13th June 2023 by Harper Muse

Pages: 384 pages

Genre: historical fiction, Russia, mystery, WWII, Espionage Thrillers

Rating: 5 crowns


A betrayal at the highest level risks the lives of two courageous female spies: MI6's best Soviet spy and the CIA's newest Moscow recruit. As the KGB closes in, a compromise must be struck if either woman hopes to survive.

Vienna, 1954

After losing everyone she loves in the final days of World War II, Ingrid Bauer agrees to a hasty marriage with a gentle Soviet embassy worker and follows him home to Moscow. But nothing deep within the Soviet Union's totalitarian regime is what it seems, including her new husband, whom Ingrid suspects works for the KGB. Upon her daughter's birth, Ingrid risks everything and reaches out in hope to the one country she understands and trusts--Britain, the country of her mother's birth--and starts passing along intelligence to MI6, navigating a world of secrets and lies, light and shadow.

Washington, DC, 1980

Part of the Foreign Studies Initiative, Anya Kadinova finishes her degree at Georgetown University and boards her flight home to Moscow, leaving behind the man she loves and a country she's grown to respect. Though raised by dedicated and loyal Soviet parents, Anya soon questions an increasingly oppressive and paranoid Soviet regime at the height of the Cold War. When the KGB murders her bestfriend, Anya picks sides and contacts the CIA. Working in a military research lab, Anya passes along Soviet military plans and schematics in an effort to end the 1980s arms race.

Alternating points of view keep readers on their toes as the past catches up to the present when an unprecedented act of treachery in 1985 threatens all undercover agents operating within the Soviet Union, and both Ingrid and Anya find themselves in a race for their lives against time and the KGB.

My Thoughts

I have read many of Katherine’s books and enjoyed them all. It was almost ten years ago when I read her Jane Austen retellings and just a couple of years ago The London House, which I still remember well. So, I knew I was in for a great read …. I just did not realise how great a read this would turn out to be. 

‘She laid down her pride and truly became the shadow she needed to become.’

A Shadow in Moscow is an incredible Cold War novel that is so sophisticated and compelling that I highly recommend it. Katherine masterfully interweaves two stories  - one of Ingrid starting in Vienna in 1954 and then Anya in Washington 1980 and the convergence of the two plots is mindblowing. I love the two viewpoints, the two eras, the two contrasting lives. There is just so much to this tale. 

“… you said you wanted to make the world a better place for her. So did I. Our ideas of what that world should be differed. They still do.”

This is a masterclass on how to write a spy novel. The richness of history interwoven through fact and fiction is seamless. To be in the mind and understand what these people went through is truly eye opening. Katherine so eloquently opens readers eyes to both the pros and cons of Soviet politics and philosophy in a way that was most compelling from the conclusion of WWII, to the Cold War and living behind the Iron Curtain. This is a fresh take on post war/Cold War spy novels - feminine at its heart with two incredibly strong female protagonists and their determination to build a better world. 

‘Nothing feels right here. Some people believe we are closer than ever to the utopian and global Marxist-Leninist world dream, but we aren’t. It’s slipping away because it was never attainable’

As the story draws to its tension filled ending you will be on the edge of your reading seat in this absorbing Cold War tale. Memorable characters detailing incredible tales of bravery and espionage that lead to shattering conclusions. Everything about this book is well done. As I stated at the outset, I have been a fan of Katherine’s books for many years, but this one … well I think it is top of the list. It is that good! Be sure not to miss it. 

“That’s the pain of the Cold War, Ingrid. Cold can burn low for a long, long time, never reaching the heat necessary to burn out . . .”

This review is based on a complimentary copy from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. Opinions expressed in this review are completely my own. The quoted material may have changed in the final release.

1 comment:

Mystica said...

This sounds like such an entertaining and even a tense read. Thanks for the review