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Reviewed by Christian Sia for Readers' Favorite
Of Our Own Device by M.K. South is a great read set against the backdrop of the Cold War in 1985. The reader is introduced to the covert nature of the work of prominent intelligence services. This is a real thriller for fans of espionage and historical novels. Jack Smith is a newly recruited CIA case officer assigned to the American Embassy in Moscow. Jack is an outgoing man but beneath his seeming joviality is hidden another side of him, one he doesn’t want the world to see: he is gay. Meeting the genius Russian nuclear physicist, Eton Volkonsky, offers the opportunity of a lifetime. Jack is attracted to the young student and believes that he can transform him into a great spy for the CIA. However, he continues to have doubts that the talented young man could be attached to the KGB, yet his stubborn heart won’t let reason take control. Will the truth dawn on him when he finally leaves Russia?
M.K. South has crafted a gripping story of espionage with powerful historical references, enabling readers to take a ride back into the '80s to relive dramatic moments like the Chernobyl disaster, the nuclear arms race, the AIDS epidemic, the fall of the Berlin Wall, and a lot more. While the book is centered on historical events like the disintegration of the Communist bloc, the author does an awesome job in offering wonderful insights into the Russian mindset, exploring the culture of the people at the time, unveiling the nature of spy work and the dangers associated with it, and taking readers on a powerful emotional ride with a gripping romance.
The setting is well-developed and every aspect of it comes across well in the narrative, including the physical locations deftly captured in exquisite prose, the social and political climate within which the story takes place, and the culture that dictates the conduct of the characters. The writing is crisp and emboldened by the author’s rare sense of humor, the finesse in the development of suspense, and the skillful handling of character. Of Our Own Device is a riveting tale with a great conflict; an intelligently plotted story with more turns and twists than readers can foresee. A very exciting read!