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Our Woman in Moscow


Our Woman in Moscow

Set in the 1940s and just a few years into the Cold War during the 1950s, twin sisters Ruth and Iris Macallister have been estranged for 12 years. But why? Making matters worse, Iris has gone missing along with her husband, Sasha Digby, and their three young children. Where could they be? Are they safe? And, most importantly and shockingly, could the Soviet intelligence be involved?

"In this terrible war --- this war between communism and liberal democracy --- communism will win, because it does not care about how many lives it devours."

The first chapter notwithstanding, OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW gets off to a bit of a slow start as characters are introduced and background information is supplied. But once I reached the 45-page mark, I was totally engaged in this story about estranged sisters, Russian spies and double agents. Oh my!

"After so much buildup, the ending is deliciously shocking and oh-so-satisfying. Overall, OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW is informative, suspenseful and engaging."

As always, the characters’ voices are so distinct, especially Ruth's, and the conversational tone drew me in, making me feel like I was gossiping with a best friend as she updated me on her exciting and dangerous life. You know how it is. She might say, “Let me tell you about that time I spied on the Russians!” “Yes, please do,” I'd reply. “I'm all ears.”

Along with Ruth, I was mesmerized equally by Lyudmila Ivanova, a ruthless, calculating and heartless member of the KGB who wouldn’t hesitate to turn in her own family members for betraying the Soviet Union’s ideals. How could a woman, especially a mother, be so cruel?

“When is it possible to feel and to think at the same time? Never.”

As the story alternates between the perspectives of Ruth and Iris, the air of mystery is palpable, and the suspense continues to grow with every turn of the page. How could sweet, unremarkable Iris have gotten involved with the Soviet intelligence? What will happen when Ruth joins undercover FBI agent C. Sumner Fox in order to visit her sister (who is enormously pregnant with her fourth child and known for her difficult deliveries) in Russia? Will Iris and the baby survive the delivery? Will Ruth and Iris forgive and forget once they are together again?

"Blood is the only thing that counts in this world, boss lady... Ain't nobody in the world understands you like your sister. Ain't nobody ever will."

Of course, a Beatriz Williams story would not be complete if it did not mention a character from at least one of her previous books. This time, it is Ruth and Iris’ aunt, Vivian Schuyler, from THE SECRET LIFE OF VIOLET GRANT, and I was excited to catch up with her again.

I had so many questions while reading the book, but luckily they were all answered in due time. I don’t know much about the Cold War, and it was refreshing to read a historical novel that wasn’t about World War I or II. After so much buildup, the ending is deliciously shocking and oh-so-satisfying. Overall, OUR WOMAN IN MOSCOW is informative, suspenseful and engaging.

Reviewed by Rebecca Wasniak on June 18, 2021

Our Woman in Moscow
by Beatriz Williams