Moscow X; contemporary thrilling spy fiction

I love a good spy thriller, especially one that really makes me think. Moscow X, written by David McCloskey is a brilliant slow burner full of raw tension as it depicts the world of espionage between the US and Russia in the current times.

David McCloskey is being pitched as the next John le Carré – a comparison I can definitely agree with. As well as developing a compelling plot full of duplicity, betrayal and intrigue, just as le Carré did, McCloskey brings authenticity to the spy world he portrays. David McCloskey is a former CIA analyst, which is a similarity he shares with John le Carré as prior to becoming a novelist, the latter worked for MI5 and MI6,

I didn’t quite realise when I was invited to review Moscow X that it is the sequel to McCloskey’s debut novel Damascus Station. This was due to my ignorance and I only realised this when I started reading it. Initially I was disappointed in myself as generally I don’t like to read a sequel without reading the novel that comes before it. However I am happy to say that my disappointment was short lived. It became clear to me early on that Moscow X is a stand alone novel with new and very interesting characters taking centre stage.

Sia is a lawyer living in London with South African heritage. She works for a firm that conceals money for the super-rich, including Russian oligarchs. Sia is also a CIA operative. She is matched with Maximiliano Castillo, a rich Mexican who comes from a family of racehorse breeders. Max’s family have been ,closely connected to the CIA for decades, with the family business acting as a front for the US intelligent service.

Sia and Max are tasked with acting as a romantic couple and entering Russia with the objective of recruiting Vadim Kovalchuk, Putin’s private banker. They aim to do this through Vadim’s wife, Anna, a ‘well-connected daughter of Russia,’ who Artemis Proctor, Sia and Max’s eccentric CIA boss views as a ‘gift from the gods of espionage…CIA Christmas come early.’ What none of the CIA operatives realise at this point is that as well as being a banker herself, Anna is also a ruthless intelligence officer.

Crikey, I love Anna as a character. She is truly flawed, with so much to explore in her as character. We the readers are privy to her innermost secrets; her family betrayal, her brutal heartache and her inner turmoil which has massive political implications. Anna is a true survivor; she is brave, she really made me empathise with her – in fact my heart broke for her. But yet, she is a bitch. And I still haven’t made my mind up as to if she has integrity or not.

I also really enjoyed the arc of Sia and Max’s relationship. Max is actually one of my favourite character’s in this novel as he possessed integrity, as well as warmth and heart. I would have been keen to explore his personal story more. Hence I hope Max features in, and takes a lead role in any future novels within the series.

I am also keen to read Damascus Station, which has received rave reviews. However a key reason why I am keen to read the prequel is because its protagonist is Artemis Proctor, Sia and Max’s kick-ass CIA boss. She is driven, determined and also funny, which I absolutely love.

Thank you to Swift Press for reaching out to me to invite me to the blog tour of this great espionage thriller. Thank you also for my advance, gifted copy of the novel.

Moscow X was released on 25 January 2024, so is available now for you to read.

To follow the blog tour, please see below.

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