Book Review — A Shadow in Moscow

12 Oct

Complex plotting, an intriguing premise, and unforgettable characters all combined for a unanimous thumbs up for A Shadow in Moscow by Katherine Reay. It certainly got my book club’s stamp of approval!

In the thick of the Cold War, a betrayal at the highest level risks the lives of two courageous female spies: MI6’s best Soviet agent and the CIA’s newest Moscow recruit.

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 within the Soviet Union’s totalitarian regime is what it seems, including her new husband, whom Ingrid suspects works for the KGB. Inspired by 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. She begins passing intelligence to MI6, navigating a world of secrets and lies, light and shadow.

Moscow, 1980

A student in the Foreign Studies Initiative, Anya Kadinova finishes her degree at Georgetown University and boards a 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 regime at the height of the Cold War. Then the KGB murders her best friend and Anya chooses her side. Working in a military research lab, she relays Soviet plans and schematics to the CIA in an effort to end the 1980s arms race.

The past catches up to the present when an unprecedented act of treachery threatens all agents operating within Eastern Europe, and both Ingrid and Anya find themselves in a race for their lives against time and the KGB.

Katherine Reay is a national bestselling and award-winning author of several novels and one work of nonfiction.For her fiction, Katherine writes love letters to books, and her novels are saturated with what she calls the “world of books.” They are character driven stories that examine the past as a way to find one’s best way forward. In the words of The Bronte Plot’s Lucy Alling, Katherine writes of “that time when you don’t know where you’ll be, but you can’t stay as you are.” Katherine holds a BA and MS from Northwestern University, and after several moves across the globe, lives outside Chicago.

Please visit Katherine on social media, on FB at KatherinereaybooksInstagram @katherinereay, or visit her website at

My Impressions:

I have been a long time fan of Katherine Reay. Her books always contain that something extra special that elevates them to the top. But her book A Shadow in Moscow . . . now it is in a class all its own. I thought The London House was the best of the best, until I read her latest offering. The stories of Ingrid and Anya begin in two different time periods in the Soviet Union. This is the time of the Cold War, and through meticulous research Reay peels back the layers of Soviet society and the underworld of spies. This is a spy book! Ingrid and Anya make their choices for different reasons, but they both work to undermine the plans of the regime. The tension of the complex plotting kept me on edge. I just knew they would be exposed at any minute! And while the spy story is intriguing, Reay’s characterization is what makes this novel exemplary. Ingrid and Anya are real — flawed, yes, but ultimately noble and sacrificing. I flew through this book, but I probably should have taken my time. It is one to be savored. And talked about. My book club loved A Shadow in Moscow. We discussed the character dynamics, the historical setting, the structure of the novel — basically everything you could talk about a book. A Shadow in Moscow is also going to make you Google to find out the stories behind the story. There was a lot we just didn’t know.

If you want an excellently written and researched novel, then don’t hesitate to pick up A Shadow in Moscow. It receives my rare Very Highly Recommended rating.

Very Highly Recommended.

Great for Book Clubs.

Audience: Adults.

(I purchased this book at a local bookstore. All opinions expressed are mine alone.)

Leave a Reply

%d bloggers like this: