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Red To Black (Anna Resnikov #1)

3.21 of 5 stars 3.21  ·  rating details  ·  331 ratings  ·  70 reviews
Finn is a veteran MI6 operative stationed in Moscow. In the guise of an amiable trade secretary, he has penetrated deep into the dangerous labyrinth that is Russia under Vladimir Putin to discover some of its darkest secrets, thanks to a high-level source deep within the Kremlin.

The youngest female colonel in the KGB, Anna is the ambitious daughter of one of the former Sov...more
Hardcover, 405 pages
Published by Headline (first published January 1st 2008)
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Richard Reviles Censorship Always in All Ways
Rating: 3.5* of five

The Publisher Says: Finn is a veteran MI6 operative stationed in Moscow. In the guise of an amiable trade secretary, he has penetrated deep into the dangerous labyrinth that is Russia under Vladimir Putin to discover some of its darkest secrets, thanks to a high-level source deep within the Kremlin.

The youngest female colonel in the KGB, Anna is the ambitious daughter of one of the former Soviet Union's elite espionage families. Charged with helping to make Russia strong agai...more
Nancy Oakes
In Red to Black, Dryden (a pseudonym for security reasons!) has posited a plot so Machiavellian in scope that reading this book at times sent chills up and down my spine. Without a total rehash of the plot, the book follows a British MI-6 agent (Finn) who receives word from a spy deep within the government of Russian president Putin that there is a plan in the works that will make the Soviet takeover of Eastern Europe look like child's play. Told mainly through the view of Anna (a KGB colonel wh...more
Kara Jorges
If you’ve been craving a moody, Russian tragedy cloaked as a thriller, I recommend this book. However, anyone craving any actual action or a cohesive story is in for a disappointment. The book has plenty of intriguing factors, but its protagonist is the least interesting character within and she does little but ruminate and reminisce about whatever everyone else is doing.

It was the end of the cold war when Anna, an attractive KGB agent often used as a honey trap, meets Finn, an MI6 agent station...more
Not such a great read, although there are some things I admire about the book.

I love John Le Carre's books & expected this to be somewhat like The Russia House which has a similar love story at its center, although moved forward in time. & maybe that was the root of my problem with this book - I wanted it to be as good as Le Carre & it just wasn't. It also wasn't enough of its own thing to be very enjoyable.

Set in Putin's Russia, this could have been an excellent novel filled with in...more
Linda C
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Theresa Leone Davidson
An interesting although somewhat less than suspenseful story of a woman who works for the Russian intelligence service and a man who works for MI6 in England. They become involved in the so called 'new' Russia led by Vladimir Putin, which is really the subject of this book, and its connection to the old Cold War Russia. A very scary book when you realize the premise is that nothing has really changed for the better in Russia, and that the author, who is a journalist using a pseudonym to write th...more
"This basically is a warning of a Russian threat to world economy disguised in a novel. It's not what I would call an espionage thriller. The meat is factually presented and while there are elements of romance and espionage in the story, it's more readable as non-fiction aimed at those who are seeking a deeper understanding of today's Russia." From an Amazon review that I agree with. Scary thinking that Putin and former KGB have large amounts of capitol to finance whatever they want to control a...more
Superior spy thriller that is strong reminiscent of John Le Carre. It's let down by the unfortunate decision to make the point of view character a female Russian FSB colonel. No matter how well Dryden writes her - and he does a respectable job - she was never going to be convincing enough to tell the story.

What makes the book very well worth reading is its chilling take on Putin and his KGB connections. The plot is set up to make that point and does so in alarming and plausible style.
Michael Drakich
May 15, 2014 Michael Drakich rated it 3 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Ron Leighton
A lot of excellent detail that sadly didn't add up to a good story.

I picked up this novel at my local bookstore without having read anything about it before. With all that was happening in the Ukraine at the time, I thought this might be an enjoyable book.

There is no doubt that the author did his homework when drafting this novel. There is a depth of knowledge regarding European politics, places and people that shines through the writing. The romantic sub-plot between the two main characters was...more
The background of this book is more scary than the storyline. For anyone who thinks the Cold War is over, this thriller will do a significant job of dispelling that notion. For insight into Vladimir Putin and the new Russia, don't miss this captivating novel.
This is a spy story. It begins in 1999 and walks us through some of the background of Putin's rise to power and how he's consolidated it.

The heroine, Anna, is a colonel in Russia's foreign intelligence. The hero, Finn, is an M16 operative. They meet and begin an affair with Anna's superiors' approval. She's supposed to dig into what Finn's after.

Finn's own superiors have lost confidence in him. Eventually, they forbid him to continue chasing down information about The Plan. No matter that men ha...more
Will Byrnes
LeCarre in love! This is one of those books you hate to put down. It combines a riveting spy tale with a love story, offers a chilling portrait of how today’s Russia came to be and should scare the bejesus out of everyone. She is KGB, from a family of KGB. He is MI6, from a family of hippies. She is assigned to keep tabs on him. He spends a lot of time in Russia picking up information from an asset code-named Mikhail. Can two spies ever be really honest with each other? In his quest to learn the...more
After The Sentinels, I just didn't have the patience to actually get through this one. I didn't even get 100 pages in before I gave up on it. Despite the larger font and even larger margins, it was like sludging through molasses and when you get to a point where you're dreading to pick up and read anymore of a book, it's time to stop reading it.

It was nearly pure exposition up until my stopping point, and nonlinear at that. The stories the MC kept telling were jumping all over the time line and...more
Red to Black by Alex Dryden is a story about what has happened in Russia since the fall of the Soviet Union. The story centers around two characters, Finn and Anna. Finn was with MI6 and Anna with the KGB, and the two have developed a romantic relationship.

The story opens with Anna sitting in a basement reading journals, trying to find Finn. The entire book is told from her point of view, which gets a little bit odd at points. For instance, there are moments where the story is only about Finn at...more
Laced with errors in tense, misplaced modifiers, and bogged down in minutiae, Red to Black is the slowest read I've endured in a long time. It is marketed as a thriller, a spy story, a love story, and according to Emma Thompson "unputdownable". Stephen Fry says it is "brilliant and unforgettable" "compulsively readable" "nothing short of miraculous". My experience of this novel was so completely different that I am left to wonder if these reviews are invented like the stories in the book made up...more
Red To Black starts smoothly with the narrative of Anna, a once rising star in the SVR, the new name of the dreaded KGB. She is narrating the story while she is in exile, off the radar. She starts with her meeting Finn, the British Second Secretary of the Trade and Investment based out of Moscow. She moves gradually to the development of a relationship between them, her own life as born into an elite political family of Russia, her special relationship with her grandmother - Nana. During the cou...more
Anna - Russian spy, a colonel... Finn - a British spy... Finn has been in Russia a long time - he has a high level contact (aka Mikhail), and the Russian KGB wants to know who - Anna is assigned to find out... it is 2000, and a change in the Russian regime - with Putin, a KGB man as president... The story is told by Anna, who after Finn's disappearance, is reading through his journals...

And from the beginning, there is little subtefuge between them - they are as honest as 2 spies might be with o...more
I have been craving an old style thriller, so it was great to stumble across Red to Black by Alex Dryden. I grew up reading John Le Carre's Cold War thrillers, so it was a little nostalgic, but of course the political landcape has changed. Putin is in charge now and the Communist "red" is being replaced by the capitalist "black". Finn is a British spy and Anna is a KGB Colonel. Anna lures Finn in a "honey trap" but the relationship actually works for them despite the complications of their lives...more
Rose Carnahan
The life of a spy

I liked the story and the way it was written. At times it would get into too much detail and lose me. But I stayed with it and found my interest again. The ending was strong and with feeling. I look forward to reading this author again.
Ben Campbell
The poetic prose had me at times mesmerized and at other times frustrated. I wanted a six speed gear shift, have the story speed shift then down shift, skidding through tight turns and climbing steep inclines, but the storytelling stalled with motor idling because of the poetic prose.

This has an excellent plot and the plotting, however complicated and faceted it was, the storytelling plunged the plot into an abyss at times. The characters are intriguing, the settings volatile, the love and hate...more
I was frustrated because I didn't understand everything the author explained. To comprehend this book you need a good knowledge of the recent past, the cold war.
Some of the revelations the author made, did shock me though. Especialy because they are probably the truth. It's enervating and frightening to see how many big crimes are covered up.

I was impressed with the characters. They were real.

It was a hard read and boring at the beginning. There was to much explaining and little happend. Howeve...more
A spy novel, but definitely not a thriller - the characters feel peril, but it moves at a pace that's much more Le Carre than Ludlum. I actually like the slower approach here, particularly because the scenario Dryden sets out is relatively complex and I think it would fail if it were rushed. It definitely helps if you have something of a finance/economics background (or are a faithful reader of The Economist), but I find that appealing because it lends a better sense of plausibility than the nor...more
This is another one that I listened to while driving to and from work. It would not have lasted long if I read it the old-fashioned way.

It seemed like the writer, Alex Dryden, was trying to find an excuse to show is immense amount of knowledge on Russian KGB, now known as the SVR. I learned a lot from this book. I just wonder if he spent too much time studying what was going on in Russia, and neglected to study the West. It's chilling hour horrible the espionage world is, from all parts of the w...more
Yeah, kind of a high rating for a book I didn't finish. It has a great premise, and it's unsettling to realize how real it is. However, if you're going to write a romantic thriller, you can't just have one character reading the notes that another character took detailing a conversation of yet a third character. It's like he had too much information to convey to waste time on plot. Maybe a nonfiction book would have been a better fit.

Other reviewers mention that the author uses a pseudonym for "s...more
Adam Shields
Short review: - a spy story that feels like a modern John le Carré with the long slow burn and detail of world events. (and on sale for $0.99 on kindle right now.) Not a great book, it got bogged down in details occasionally. But the details were also part of what made the book work as well. It was very focused on Putin and the anonymous author has definitely made Putin into the off the screen villain. It was worth reading. There are two follow up books in the series.

My full review is on my blo...more
Aug 04, 2014 Peter rated it 1 of 5 stars
Shelves: spy
Did not like way too slow, did not finish.
Charles Lewis
Too much depressing reality for my liking. While it held my interest, it was not a typical action packed spy adventure. The framework of the story, a post-iron curtain relationship between a British and Russian spy, is a vehicle for revealing corruption actually present in Europe, which is also to real for my liking. The book reads more like a detailed report an agent might write, than an action fantasy adventure. This adds to the grittiness. Even when the author describes action however, it is...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Feb 04, 2014 Johndamis marked it as to-read
777 9533
Jo Franz
Very interesting read! Set in Russia, and all over Europe as well as Great Britain, this spy novel sets out such a real scenario I had to Google the author who was obviously British! I eventually found an interview that explained he is not only a journalist who was actually present when things happened in the Soviet Union, but he is so afraid for his life that he writes with a pen name so as not to be discovered and killed by the very real presence of the KGB!
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Alex Dryden is a writer and journalist with many years of experience in security matters. When the Berlin Wall came down in 1989, Dryden watched the statues of Lenin fall across the former Soviet Union. Since then he has charted the false dawn of democracy in Russia as the country has transformed into the world's most powerful secret state
More about Alex Dryden...
Moscow Sting (Anna Resnikov, #2) The Blind Spy (Anna Resnikov, #3) Death in Siberia (Anna Resnikov, #4) Modern English Drama: Dryden, Sheridan, Goldsmith, Shelley, Browning, Byron: V18 Harvard Classics Using Graphs in Economics

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