The Palace of Treason is the second book in a series of three that the author has written about espionage, the type of espionage that could very well be taking place today, in the real world, since the United States and Russia are actively engaged in spying on each other all of the time.
Dominika Egorova has risen up the ranks in the Russian Intelligence Service. Her life and limb have often been threatened, but even as others are gravely injured and die, she seems miraculously to survive each time. She rises to fight for what she believes in for another day. Trained as a Sparrow, she uses her feminine wiles to get information from susceptible dupes.
Her handler and sometimes lover is Nate Nash who works for the American Intelligence Service known as the CIA. The agents in the service are dedicated to keeping Captain Egorova alive, for Diva is a double agent, also working for the CIA. Even as she rose to the rank of Captain, in Russia, obtaining her own division to run, and becoming a valuable asset to Putin, she continued to pass information in and out of Russia. The CIA is determined to protect her, as they protect the life of each agent they use in their efforts to keep America safe. The agent’s life is sacrosanct to them.
Dominika uncovers information that is extremely valuable to the security of the United States. Using a system that enables the safe transfer of secrets in and out of Russia, she is able to warn them of upcoming dangers. She learns that Iran, with Russia’s help, is secretly planning to develop weapons grade uranium in a facility hidden from the UN watchdogs. Using the skills she learned in Sparrow school, she develops a relationship with Yevgeny, the man who is the right hand of her archenemy, Zugurov, her irrational and vicious boss who is bent on eliminating her from the picture since she presents a severe danger to his dreams of success. She keeps besting him at his own game, and thus, she has caught the eye of Putin. Zugurov's right hand man, Yevgeny, whispers secrets to her during their lovemaking sessions, secrets that Zugurov keeps from her to prevent her from achieving further success in the spy game. Through Yevgeny, she learns that there is a mole in the CIA, a mole named Triton, a traitor who intends to reveal her identity along with other valuable government documents.
There is a great deal of action and intrigue as the story travels through parts of the United States, Russia and Europe. There are spies everywhere, but the Russian spies, in particular, seem to be particularly brutal, defying age old unwritten rules that were supposed to keep them from deliberately harming diplomats. They engage in extremely violent methods to root out information from the foreign agents, methods of torture that sicken those that have to witness and/or carry them out for the monsters that order them to do so.
The first book was a bit better than this one. It seemed to proceed more smoothly. Additionally, it didn’t contain as many unnecessary prurient references, even with the chapters about the training at Sparrow school. The recipes continue and they break up the tension that the story creates. The narrator does an admirable job interpreting each character and they are easily discernible throughout the novel.