Book Review: The Moscow Deception


Author: Karen Robards
Publisher: Mira Books
ISBN: 9780778369011
Genre: Thriller


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 artifacts. But now all eyes are on Bianca, and escaping international pursuit will be harder than ever…


I had high hopes for THE MOSCOW DECEPTION, which is neither a thrilling read, or 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—including several typos. 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, again, the author didn’t think to offer too much by way of any explanation.

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 (we are again told). 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. And, all in all, considering how many times her ‘non-father‘ Mason had, up to this point, used and deceived her, I was surprised she went along with his plan to be used again, to steal this treasure.

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 characterization, and cliched dialogue make for this being a deception on the reading public, nothing more.

Rating: 5 / 10

Previous Happy New Year
Next Book Review: The Reckoning


  1. January 2, 2019

    Oh that’s really too bad here! With so many flaws no wonder you were disappointed!

    • January 2, 2019

      Indeed, Sophie. It was something you might expect from a first time author, and an unheard of publishing company, not someone who has supposedly written 50 books! Too bad.

  2. January 2, 2019

    Sorry this one was such a bummer for you but I am LOL-ing at your review. I loved all of your points and think even though it wasn’t a great read for you, you delivered an excellent and honest review! On to better books for 2019!

    • January 2, 2019

      Oh, I know I can be rather scathing when I get pissed off at a writer (or publisher) for churning out stuff like this. But at least my review made you smile, so not all was for nought! 😉

  3. January 2, 2019

    Oh dear, I’m definitely leaving this one out as I would absolutely share your frustration. I guess something did get stolen – your time! It’s highly disappointing when something that sounds so good from its synopsis doesn’t quite deliver.
    By the way non-father would seriously get on my nerves as well… crossing my fingers your next choice is much better one!!

    • January 2, 2019

      You should it wasn’t worth reading, in the end, Vera. The problem was, I read the first part, online, and liked what I saw, put it on my Christmas list for something different. But, alas, this was almost a DNF. Which was a shame, as it had everything going for it, just the author never delivered.

      Oh, and I’ve already made up time and started another THE RECKONING, and will finish it later today. Now *that’s* been a roller coaster ride. Excellent writing!

  4. Oh I’m sorry your first read of 2019 fell flat BUT that means it can only get better for the rest of the year :-). It sounds like the characters were underdeveloped and it wasn’t very exciting at all. Also I’d expect Moscow to be in the middle of it with such a title 🙂

    • January 2, 2019

      I actually finished this one December 31st, Inge. It was the last book of 2018 … and while I finished, because it was a quick read (only because I skipped the filler) it left me feeling like I had read someone’s first draft before editing!

  5. January 2, 2019

    Well, i decided in a split second that i don’t wanna read this 😀
    I mean, they don’t even properly spend time in Russia??
    The synopsis sounded good, but with that in mind i would have expected fast paced action.

    Awesome review <3

    • January 2, 2019

      Yeah, I though from the opening chapter that I read online, that this was going to be an old fashioned cold war thriller. Nope! Wrong on every account. This would never have made my wish list if I had had the chance to check it out in the shops. I really must stop buying unseen books.

      It was as dull as watching paint peel off the wall.

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