Reviewed by Jamie Michele for Readers' Favorite
The Russian Woman by Alex Lukeman is a spy thriller and the first book in the new Michael Thorne series, headed by its titular protagonist and CIA operative, Michael Thorne. Thorne has a history of being in tight spots but even his extensive experience is put to the test when the undercover agent is assigned to handle a Russian patriot named Anya, a woman with her own deeply honed skillset. Her ties to Russian defense go back generations but the success of lineage does not transfer to the success of her relationships, which is perhaps the only thing Anya and Thorne initially seem to have in common: National honor and crappy personal lives. A deep personal loss turns Anya into an asset, and assets are at risk and risky, especially when there's a mole. Secrets, sizzle, cat and mouse spycraft, nuclear war, and death by brass lamp are just a sampling of the world Lukeman creates in this fast-moving suspense novel.
I love a good spy series and Alex Lukeman delivers in The Russian Woman. Both Thorne and Anya are compelling, thoroughly developed characters who do not require much suspension of disbelief when it comes to the lengths they are willing to go to in a profession most of us know nothing about. Perhaps this is why, as readers, we are always so intrigued by Russian agents turned American counterparts and the men in intelligence work who are paired with them to save us all from nuclear extermination. I love how Lukeman gives us multiple points of view characters, including the President of the United States, and this works well to flesh out the mechanisms of politicking and the chess game of military might. The writing is sublime, the dialogue is pitch perfect and, as a whole, this Jack Ryan meets Red Sparrow novel is a worthy new addition to the genre of espionage and intrigue. Very highly recommended.