Jason Matthews
1951 - 2021
Jason Matthews


Retired CIA officer and New York Times bestselling author of the acclaimed "Red Sparrow Trilogy" Jason Matthews died on April 28, 2021 in Rancho Mirage after a long, courageous battle with a rare neurodegenerative disease. He is survived by his wife Suzanne, daughters Alexandra Matthews (Steve Souryal) and Sophie Baumann (Tim Baumann) and brother William Matthews (Sharon). He was 69.

Mr. Matthews was born in Hartford, CT to Charles and Aglaia Matthews. He attended Mount Hermon prep-school (now Northfield Mount Hermon). After graduating from Washington and Lee University, he pursued a Master's in Journalism from the University of Missouri, Columbia.

Fluent in Greek, Spanish and French, he applied to the Central Intelligence Agency after grad school. As a CIA case officer, he served in Europe, Asia and the Caribbean. In 1981 while on an overseas assignment, he met his future wife Suzanne who was also a career CIA officer.

Upon his retirement from the CIA in 2010, Matthews embarked on the writing of thrillers that drew on his long years of experience. Although he coyly joked that this effort was merely "therapy" for an ex-Agency officer, he threw himself into the effort, studying the work of other spies-turned-writers, conducting research and dedicating long hours to his new career. He was meticulously attentive to details, whether it be how CIA operatives surveilled targets or the proper ingredients of a classic Russian borscht soup. Matthews delighted in deploying the spy-craft he used in the CIA to illuminate his books. His first book, Red Sparrow, won the Edgar award for best first novel and garnered high praise. "Relentless drama is just one of the high points of this sublime and sophisticated debut," said the Washington Post. Echoed the New York Times Book review, "A primer on 21st century spying. Matthews former foes in Moscow will be choking on their blinis when they read how much has been revealed about their tradecraft… terrifically good." Red Sparrow was later adapted into the 2018 Twentieth Century Fox film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Joel Edgerton.

Mr. Matthews work and his life were animated by wry humor, ferocious patriotism and devotion to his family and the CIA. A life well-lived, he is fondly and forever remembered by his family, friends, professional colleagues, and the many admirers of his distinctive novels. A celebration of life will be held later this summer.

Published by The Desert Sun from Apr. 30 to May 2, 2021.
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6 Entries
My sincere condolences to William and the entire Matthews family. Growing up on Robeth Lane in Wethersfield, we next door neighbors and had many happy times together. I know that Jason's loving parents would be very proud of his accomplishments and would have expected nothing less.
Frederick Becher
June 27, 2021
A childhood friend is a forever friend no matter how far away life takes us. Memories of my dear lifelong friends and neighbors, the Matthews, kept coming back to me all last week. Now I know why. Jason and I spent many years growing up together in Wethersfield. Our parents were the best of friends. We all stayed in touch for many, many years but unfortunately lost touch for many more. Jason’s mother was like a second mother to me and his dad was a good friend to my dad. Jason and William were my brothers. Precious years together, letters and a few great visits over the years: Matthews’ Christmas party 1954, Oswegatchie, Shady Lane Stand, JaLouWil, Pies,pies,pies, Mystic Whaler, Chicago gang, Greek lessons, Miti, Dr. Seuss, recital bouquets, The Most Excellent Ambassador to France. “I’m seriously considering your suggestion to take up a literary career...” - Jason at Mt. Hermon to Lou Ann at UNC 1967, “I have not written anything but cables and State Dept. Telegrams for almost eight years now (!) and am sort of afraid to try—think it would take a long time to get a good narrative voice back. Maybe when I retire.” - J. Jason Matthews, Vice Consul of the United States of America, Budapest, 1986 to Lou (Ann) and Robin Brewer, Raleigh, N.C. Suzanne, Sophie, and Alexandra I wish we had met. In the elegant words of a wonderful woman, “wishes for your future are deep and most meaningful. You have had a beautiful life thus far and the coming years will be full of happy and sad experiences. But you must accept them with a bit of humor and intelligence. “ - Aglee Matthews, 1967.
Lou Ann Kelley Brewer
May 4, 2021
RIP Jason.
Frank Titus
May 4, 2021
Rest in Peace "Red Sparrow" author Jason Matthews! My sympathies go out to your wife Suzanne and daughters Sophie and Alexandra.

John McQuilkin
John McQuilkin
May 2, 2021
Jason was always smart, funny and a joy to be around. We were classmates at W&L. Saw him at a reunion a few years ago and enjoyed being with him, although briefly. My thoughts and prayers go to his wife and daughters.
Jay Denny
May 2, 2021
It was a pleasure working with and for you, Jason. Smart, articulate, well read and with a terrific dry sense of humor. I remember fondly walking around with you and getting the complete story of the Nasoni (public fountains in a certain city). Hilarious. Too soon gone. Be at rest Jason. Kevin B.
April 30, 2021
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