By Thom Geier
Updated May 03, 2013 at 04:00 AM EDT

Set in Moscow, Helsinki, Rome, and other far-flung locales, Red Sparrow follows a dashing young CIA agent, Nathaniel Nash, and Russian intelligence officer Dominika Egorova, the whip-smart niece of a devious top official in the modern SVR (formerly known as the KGB). Since Matthews is a 33-year CIA vet, the spycraft in his well-plotted debut has the scintillating whiff of authenticity. But he’s given Dominika a version of synesthesia that lets her ”see” emotions as colors, a kind of mystical mood-ring polygraph that’s way too convenient. B