Of Our Own Device

Of Our Own Device


Fiction - Historical - Event/Era
766 Pages
Reviewed on 03/02/2017
Buy on Amazon

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Author Biography

I'm a sort of a vagabond, having lived, studied and worked in many countries, poor, aspiring and rich. I have experienced poverty and war, as well as peace and prosperity, and I've learned that you don't appreciate the latter in full, without experiencing the former. Today, I'm still living in a foreign country, working in many others in the region, and traveling yet to others because... I can't get wanderlust out of my DNA!

My book was inspired by the movie Brokeback Mountain, Anthony Grey's novel "Saigon" and Boris Pasternak's "Doctor Zhivago".

    Book Review

Reviewed by Ruffina Oserio for Readers' Favorite

Of Our Own Device by M.K. South is a powerful thriller told around equally powerful historical events. For readers who enjoy political thrillers that are fast-paced and gripping, this book will be a wondrous treat. The novel features one of the perennial conflicts of modern history, the tug-of-war between the CIA and the KGB, set in an age when spy work was the order of the day with a shaky relationship between the US and Russia. Jack Smith is a new CIA agent attached to the US embassy in Moscow, a novice who quickly develops a good relationship with Eton Volkonsky. Eton Volkonsky is a student specializing in nuclear physics. A simple friendship could be transformed into a great opportunity as Jack is tasked to coax the young Russian student into becoming a spy. The huge question is: Can he be so sure about the man he trusts or could Eton be on a similar mission for the KGB?

M.K. South has created a stellar thriller with memorable characters and readers will be thrilled with the drama that takes place within these pages. The reader gets the feeling that the author is an expert in the workings of intelligence organizations. It is interesting to see how he weaves historical elements into the story, making relevant references to Afghanistan, the emergence of HIV AIDS, and a lot of verifiable information. There is a strong political and social commentary that punctuates the story and gives it life, unveiling a Russia that readers hardly know. Jack Smith is a well-crafted character and readers will love watching as he evolves through the political friction, the intrigue, and the game played by two intelligence bodies — the CIA and the KGB. Of Our Own Device is one that will be hard to put down. Tightly written and paced to keep the reader reading, nonstop.

Joel R. Dennstedt

Two aspects of M.K. South’s complex espionage thriller, Of Our Own Device, starkly define the reading experience one must expect upon tackling this lengthy novel. The plotting is meticulous and brilliantly satisfying. The sex is graphic, detailed, and same gender, but it is not gratuitous, and it is absolutely essential and integral to the book’s unfolding storyline. The year is 1985, an historical period rife with Cold War strategy and tactical maneuvering between two primary players: the superpowers - Russia and the United States. Jack Smith, in deep cover with an alternate backstory to keep him well hidden, plies his dual trades under the predatory and acute scrutiny of the Soviet Union as Gorbachev comes into power, a time when glasnost and perestroika serve to belie the undercurrent of severe danger inherent to his placement, especially considering the devastating and imminent threat of nuclear war.

Amidst the cunning games of spy vs. spy played out during this unstable time, Jack Smith develops a strategic and unintentional emotional/sexual bond with a young Russian would-be rock star, who happens also to be an up-and-coming physicist studying the potential effects of nuclear winter. M.K. South’s treatment of their most clandestine affair within his novel becomes the essential metaphor and conflict serving to propel his ever more thrilling and dangerous storyline. Which particular secretive revelation might cause more damage to them both becomes a crucial consideration. Meanwhile, the book accelerates progressively toward a fateful, unanticipated, but highly satisfying conclusion.

Ray Simmons

Of Our Own Device by M.K. South is the first book I've read that featured a protagonist who is a spy and also happens to be gay. I'm not sure what I was expecting, but what I got was an interesting spy novel. It was fascinating to go back in time to the days of the Cold War and how we thought then. I had forgotten the feel of it, but M.K. South captures the ambiance of that era perfectly. I especially related to the conversations about classic rock music and how important and prevalent it was, not only to young Americans, but to young people the world over. America and the Soviet Union had a mutual fascination with each other and M.K. South has a delicate way of emphasizing this without overdoing it.

What I liked most about Of Our Own Device by M.K. South is the protagonist, Jack Smith. There are so many aspects of him that reminded me of myself as a young man. I am also from a small town; I also dreamed of going to California and government service was my ticket to see the world, just as it was for Jack. I found the depiction of life as an American living and working in a foreign country spot on. The foreign students, the fellow Americans you meet, and the surveillance by the host country were all beautifully written. This is a spy’s life - not the constant action and adventure of a James Bond novel but the daily stress of living a lie and still trying to be a fun, decent, human being. M.K. South writes well and I look forward to more stories of Jack and his California dream.

Ray Simmons

Of Our Own Device by M.K. South is the first book I've read that featured a protagonist who is a spy and also happens to be gay. I'm not sure what I was expecting but what I got was an interesting spy novel. It was fascinating to go back in time to the days of the cold war and how we thought then. I had forgotten the feel of it but M.K. South captures the feel of that era perfectly. I especially related to the conversations about classical rock music and how important and prevalent it was, not only to young Americans, but to young people the world over. America and the Soviet Union had a mutual fascination with each other and M.K. South has a delicate way of emphasizing this without overdoing it.

What I liked most about Of Our Own Device by M.K. South is the protagonist, Jack Smith. There are so many aspects of him that reminded me of myself as a young man. I am also from a small town and I also dreamed of going to California and government service was my ticket to see the world, just as it was for Jack. I found the depiction of life as an American living and working in a foreign country spot on. The foreign students, the fellow Americans you meet, and the surveillance by the host country were all beautifully written. This is a spy’s life, not the constant action and adventure of a James Bond novel but the daily stress of living a lie and still trying to be a fun, decent, human being. M.K. South writes well and I look forward to more stories of Jack and his California dream.