The Moscow Deception by Karen Robards

Author: Karen Robards
Publisher: Mira
Format: Paperback
Genre: Thriller

Back Cover Blurb

Bianca St. Ives makes her living as a high-end thief and a genius of disguise, conning criminals out of the money they stole – and all for the greater good. A femme fatale Robin Hood, she’s learnt everything she knows from her father. Now that she’s taken over running the family business, it’s not just Richard St. Ives on most-wanted lists, but Bianca, too.

After faking his own death, the word is out that Bianca’s father is, in fact, alive, and having just pulled off a major heist in Austria, he has a dangerous task for Bianca that will see her travelling to Russia to steal ancient jewels and artefacts. But now all eyes are on Bianca, and escaping international pursuit will be harder than ever…

What I Thought

I had high hopes for THE MOSCOW DECEPTION, which is neither a thrilling read, nor set in Moscow, that is, till the last couple of very rushed chapters. This novel suffers from several fundamental flaws that should have been address in the editing stage, but, sadly, were over-looked. Major amongst these is the constant repetitious phrases by the author that, in the end, become annoying and jarring. In point of case, the use of ‘split second‘. In a split second this, in a split second that—and twice in several paragraphs, one after another. 

Then there was the constant use of the term, ‘non-father‘ in describing Mason, the man she had known for years as her father. I lost count of that one. The author also spent a great deal of time—in the first half of the book—having her protagonist looking over her shoulder, and worrying about dark shadows, and things unseen. All this by way of conveying how ‘tense’ the situation was. But all this made me think was that this character was overly paranoid, and without any significant reason. As the author didn’t think to offer too much by way of any explanations as to why. 

The opening started off so promisingly, with the main protagonist, Bianca St Ives (among one name of many) laying in wait, in the pouring rain, to assassinate a top CIA manager who, we are told, is hell bent on having her assassinated. This whole opening segment was a missed opportunity, as, in the end, nothing happens, someone else kills the CIA bigwig, though we never get to find out who. Bianca then spend way too much time monologuing about what may or may not happen as a result. 

Quite frankly, it wasn’t in the least bit exciting, and the false jeopardy was annoying. Here is a lead character, supposed (we are again told) to be the product of a gone-wrong CIA operation, a test-tube baby, meant to be a ‘super-soldier’ AKA Jason Borne. Bianca St Ives, however, is no Jason Borne, and this contrived story lacks any credibility in comparison. We are neither shown, or given any examples as to why she might be considered a threat to National Security, or in having any skill set other than being an accomplished thief (which we are told, again). But accomplished is way too high an accolade, given it’s all about the reverse dress, gizmos and gadgets (which she doesn’t really use) and a lot of flimflam and talk. 

There is no actual action.

The one thing she does steal, or is a part of stealing—which comes at the end of the book—is Priam’s Treasure. And only with the help of a down on their luck circus troupe who do all the heavy lifting, as it were, plot wise. 

The lack of any pacing along with way too much ‘filler’ that I ended up skipping over, made for a lacklustre read. There was little to no tension, other than a few contrived moments that seemed ill fitted to the characters, and over all story. And then, only served to allow a romantic interlude with Colin, a good-looking (and aren’t they all) Interpol agent on her trail. 

No pacing, a lack of a cohesive story, a thin to transparent plot, paper thin characterisation, and cliched dialogue make for this being a deception on the reading public, nothing more. 

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