by David McCloskey
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Pub Date 25 Jan 2024 | Archive Date 31 Jan 2024
‘Thrilling, propulsive and terrifying … unputdownably superb’ - Simon Sebag Montefiore
The second novel from the author of Damascus Station ('One of the best spy thrillers in years' - The Times)
CIA operatives Sia and Max enter Russia to recruit Vladimir Putin’s moneyman. Sia works for a London firm that conceals the wealth of the super-rich. 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, and their targets are Vadim, Putin’s private banker, and his wife Anna, who is both a banker and an intelligence officer herself…
Selected Praise for Damascus Station:
'Simply marvellous storytelling...a stand-out thriller and essential reading for fans of the genre' - Financial Times
'The best spy novel I have ever read' - General David Petraeus, former director of the CIA
'Moscow X is a propulsive thrill ride and a moving portrait of life, betrayal, and vengeance in Putin’s Russia. It is also the most authentic depiction of CIA deep cover operations you’ll find in print. 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
‘Thrilling, propulsive and terrifying … unputdownably superb’ - Simon Sebag Montefiore
‘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, compelling, and timely – I could not put it down’ - Clarissa Ward, CNN Chief International Correspondent and author of On All Fronts: the Education of a Journalist
'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 bestselling author of The Chaos Agent
'Moscow X brilliantly captures the nuances of field work in hostile environments, the thrill and terror that grips every intelligence officer when they are in the belly of the beast. McCloskey is the new poet laureate of the CIA operations officer' - Marc 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. His latest novel, 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 bestselling author of Black Wolf
Average rating from 24 members
Perhaps even better than Damascus Station.
Authors always say how writing their second book is more difficult than their first. David McCloskey says so himself, but I don't think he needs to worry. "Moscow X" does just fine. It's perhaps even better than "Damascus Station".
After an admittedly long scene-setting first few chapters, the story centres in on CIA operatives Sia and Max as they travel to Russia to recruit someone close to Vladimir Putin's moneyman. While neither is a full CIA asset, both Sia, who works for a London firm that conceals the wealth of the super-rich, and Max's, a high-end horse-breeder whose family business is a CIA front, both have reasons to make the mission a success. Posing as a couple, they infiltrate the world of super-rich Russian banker, Vadim , and his wife Anna. The way in which the mission unfolds is fraught with tension and suspense, and ramps up even more when things start to unravel.
There's so many powerful, flawed and driven characters in the book - from a manic CIA Station Chief whose antics have had her benched, to a young and ambitious CIA operative, to a sometimes-reluctant asset who is torn between his family and the CIA, and almost over-the-top Russians, it's hard to decide who to root for. Each one is perfectly realised, their fears and motives clearly defined. Honestly, I found myself much more invested in their fates than I did Sam and Mariam from "Damascus Station".
There's enough spy tradecraft to keep fans happy, and followers of Daniel Silva might wonder if Gabriel Allon is about to pop up, as the mission develops and takes unexpected turns. The fast-moving story is bang up-to-date with a backdrop of Putin's Russia, the war in Ukraine, and even COVID.
The author has already hinted at his third book, which I can't wait to read, but meantime fans will be queuing up for his latest triumph.
Damascus Station was up there with the best spy thrillers and the author has totally smashed it with his follow up which introduces a new series of characters and a different setting in Russia.
The book is a bit of a slow burner but bursts into action and turns into a rollercoaster of a ride with breathless action. The tradecraft is brilliantly described and obviously accurate and the descriptions of Putin's Russia and its internal politics are jaw dropping in their complexity.
A long but very satisfying read which firmly establishes the author as at the top of his trade.
I'm not an avid reader of spy thrillers, although I love Mick Herron's Slough House series, but I was curious to try 'Moscow X' because the author's previous novel, 'Damascus Station', had sold well in our store. At first, I didn't think I was going to like this book, but once I'd got used to the spy 'vibe', I started to enjoy it. Most of the central characters are engaging, particularly the Russian Anna and the kick-ass Artemis Procter from the CIA. The latter is an over-the-top or larger-than-life portrayal, depending on your point of view, but her unique (often withering) perspective on things often made me laugh. I wanted all the main characters to survive and succeed, which is always my most reliable yardstick for a satisfying read. Anna, the fiercely loyal Russian patriot, really touched me, even though her circumstances and character mean she appears to be an ice queen.
As the plot develops, there are some terrific set pieces and the tension mounts to an almost unbearable level. I found the main characters increasingly convincing, in their professional and personal choices and conflicts, and I was completely gripped. Although the personal angles interested me the most, I was also fascinated by the political aspects, which seemed much less clear-cut than my original ideas about espionage. I'm still not a huge fan of spy novels, but I think this is an excellent example of the genre.
I have not read the authors previous book, but was intrigued by his background and the description of this one.
I find that sometimes intelligent writers can dumb down their story-line for maximun commercial appeal, or have factually incorrect specialist details which niggle and can spoil the enjoyment. Not do this author! I devoured the book (and it isn't a short book!) In a weekend, reading it from Friday evening until Sunday evening.
The story is well-written, characterisation spot-on and the description of places and people brings them to life. When I finished it I was really impressed, as it's so good, and have now ordered the first book:)
What a great read for those of us that love the murky world of espionage .This is a well researched novel that feels like the real thing , muddying waters ,financial international irregularities and personal greed .These are just a few of the nasty environment these people deal in, not to mention murder .
Artemis Procter a senior operative in the C.I.A. sets forth an operation to bring down high up Soviet officials that sit at Putins right hand and to discredit and create mayhem in the system. She tries to do that by moving huge amounts of money around in the international market and banking system . The money is converted from stolen gold which belongs to the Russian state . The whole smoke and mirror game starts with Max , a horse breeder in Mexico and Sia a lawyer working for a London legal practice with dealings with Russian money. Artemis works her magic but with tragic results .
Wonderful, exciting read that keeps you entranced with the complexities and general skulduggery .
When General David Petraeus says this was 'The best spy novel I have ever read' (about Damascus Station) then who would I be to argue?
As much as I loved Damascus Station, I think this was even better, A brilliant novel from someone who has seen and done it all
Following on from the authors first novel the story line is believable and challenging. The tension is palpable for both the characters and the reader. Unlike in the first novel, where there were loose threads, the author ties up everything neatly in this book. Highly recommended to those who enjoy a good spy novel.
A barnstorming tour 're force.
I loved it! It's a long book that is so hard to put down that it almost led to cross words at home.
The story .concept is very clever and intriguing, the research has clearly been extensive and the writing is of high quality..
There is tension throughout that reaches a prolonged peak, but the book doesn't end there and the aftermath lifts the whole thing to another level and gives more clarity.
I have no hesitation in recommending this book.
A great spy type thriller. Loved the 2 characters and hope to read more of them in the future? Stunning description of locations in Russia and Mexico. A real rollercoaster ride of a story.
Anna is Russian Secret service and she's unhappily married to a banker who looks after the ill gotten gains of Putin and a group of his close cronies. She consults Sia, a lawyer who works for a London firm that helps oligarchs to launder their money, ostensibly about her marriage . Sia works part time for the CIA, managed by her boss Procter in Moscow X, a shadowy department running operations against the Russians. Procter sees a way of disrupting the heirarchy of Russians around Putin by looting some of the cash that Anna's husband looks after and making it look as if some of the nomenklatura are responsible. Its a great plot with many unknowns - who is recruiting whom? Who is telling the truth and who can be trusted? With plenty of action, it moves at ripping pace. A terrific, unputdownable page-turner.