by David McCloskey
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Pub Date 03 Oct 2023 | Archive Date 30 Sep 2023
A daring CIA operation threatens chaos in the Kremlin. But can Langley trust the Russian at its center?
CIA officers Sia and Max enter Russia under commercial cover to recruit Vladimir Putin’s moneyman. Sia works for a London law firm that conceals the wealth of the superrich. Max’s family business in Mexico—a CIA front since the 1960s—is a farm that breeds high-end racehorses. They pose as a couple to target Vadim, Putin’s private banker, and his wife, Anna, who—unbeknownst to CIA—is a Russian intelligence officer under deep cover at the bank.
As they descend further into a Russian world dripping with luxury and rife with gangland violence, Sia and Max’s only hope may be Anna, who is playing a game of her own.
Careening between the horse ranch in northern Mexico, the corridors of Langley, and the dark opulence of Putin’s Russia, Moscow X is both a gripping thriller of modern espionage and a raw, unsparing commentary on the nature of truth, loyalty, and vengeance amid the shadow war between the United States and Russia.
About the Author: David McCloskey is the author of the novels Damascus Station and Moscow X. He's a former CIA analyst and a former consultant at McKinsey & Company. While at the CIA, he worked in field stations across the Middle East and briefed senior White House officials and Arab royalty. He lives in Texas.
"A smart, sleek, and absolutely gripping thriller that swept me away." - Brad Thor
"David McCloskey has delivered another mesmerizing tale of intrigue to follow the incredible Damascus Station. Moscow X is even better; an utterly authentic and deeply compelling thriller that is among the very best espionage fiction in print." - Mark Greaney, #1 New York Times best-selling author of The Chaos Agent: A Gray Man Novel
"A spellbinding journey into the brutal, shadowy intrigues of the Russian elite and the underground world of espionage. The Russian condition, as seen through Anna’s eyes, is both moving and terrifying. An electrifying read. I could not put it down." - Clarissa Ward, CNN chief international correspondent and author of On All Fronts
"Moscow X brilliantly captures the nuances of field work in hostile environments, the thrill and terror that grip every intelligence officer when they are in the belly of the beast. McCloskey is the new poet laureate of the CIA operations officer." - Marc E. Polymeropoulos, former CIA senior operations officer and author of Clarity in Crisis
"There is a new generation of spy novelists storming the genre, and David McCloskey must be counted as one of the best. Moscow X is a white-knuckled, fast-paced journey into the modern age of spy craft, where high-tech espionage jostles dangerously against old school cunning and Machiavellian intrigue; and where men and women risk everything to uncover an elusive and, ultimately, lethal truth." - Kathleen Kent, New York Times best-selling author of Black Wolf
"Moscow X is a propulsive thrill ride and a moving portrait of life, betrayal, and vengeance in Putin’s Russia. Those of us who spent our careers running spies have been waiting for the next John le Carré, Charles McCarry, or Jason Matthews—authors who told riveting and deeply authentic stories about intelligence wars fought in the shadows. With Moscow X, David McCloskey takes his place among that company." - John Sipher, former CIA senior operations officer
"A breathless intrigue limned with elegance and grace…David McCloskey has asserted himself as a world-class thriller writer. With only two novels to his name, he already calls to mind le Carré, Forsyth, and Silva." - Gregg Hurwitz, New York Times best-selling author of the Orphan X series
Available on NetGalley
Average rating from 16 members
Following the success of his debut, Damascus Station, which happens to be one of the best debut spy novels written, David McCloskey had a lot to live up to. Not only is Moscow X a worthy follow-up, it proves McCloskey is not just a one-hit wonder nor just a pretty face. The CIA believes they have a way to get to Putin’s private banker– through the man’s wife, Anna. She is stunning, smart and absolutely hates her husband. Seems like a solid plan. But there’s a lot more to Anna. A dangerous game of cat-and-mouse ensues with dire consequences not only for the cats and mice, but holds worldwide ramifications.
Shit, Moscow X is good. Real good. Recency bias aside, Damascus Station is in my top three spy novels written. Moscow X is probably top ten. Who does that? Daniel Silva aside, no one.
If you are looking for a read that flies out of the gate, Moscow X isn’t it. It is a cat-and-mouse game of the highest order. McCloskey uses the first ~30% to set his table just right. When he arrives at that point, Moscow X takes off and there is no looking back.
McCloskey knows the intelligence arena as well as anyone today but he is head-and-shoulders above most on character development, their backstories and how he employs said characters. The “bad” guys are typically smart, devious, and dastardly. The “good” guys are where he strays from our perception of what intelligence assets “should” be. Characters who would look more at home at an AA or Sex Anonymous meeting rather than at Langley. McCloskey’s talent at putting unlikely people in unlikely organizations and/or in extraordinary circumstances is the secret sauce.
It’s not fair to the rest of us mortals to be so good at something from the start. I also saw where McCloskey said he had a dickens of a time with Moscow X. Which doesn’t help my self-esteem because you would never know it if he hadn’t said it. I mean, who does that? Apparently David McCloskey. I don’t have to say it but Moscow X gets my highest recommendation.
Thank you to W.W. Norton & Company and NetGalley for the privilege of reading an advanced copy of Moscow X!