Cover of Novel, Of Our own device OF OUR

Get the bragging rights.... say you read the book, it before it was a film!

The Year of the Spy.
The CIA and the KGB clash in the last showdown as the Soviet bloc enters its final years. Deception is the name of the game, and it pervades every aspect of Jack Smith's life - secrets to keep, secrets to find, and one to give away. And as Fate would have it, to the most improbable person in Moscow.

Latest review - 11 April 2017

Reviewed By Joel R. Dennstedt for Readers' Favorite
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.


This story starts during 1985, the so called "Year of the Spy"and whilst a fictional story, it is interwoven meticulously with history. This is the foundation upon which Of Our Own device is built. Where the story suggests the moon was full on certain day, or it was raining... it would have been. As you read, you will stumble into parts of the story you feel you know from news reports, effectively blurring the boundary between fact and fiction. In fact at times it seems more Déjà vu than fiction, adding massively to the story. A deal of the characters are real people, but since they are inserted into imagined events, their names have been changed, Those of you "in the know" will recognise them. Those of you that had the need to go upstairs in the US embassy, or indeed... were listening in, will doubtless recognise a good deal too.

In writing Of Our Own Device, the author set out to avoid writing a prescriptive, formulaic story, and is the better for it. The story has a very particular and deliberate cadence. Spying is a very methodical expertise. The cadence of Of Our own Device is very carefully crafted to give this perception, and to imprint the psychological state of our protagonist upon the reader at different phases. But this isn't a spy novel in the classic sense. If you want car chases, the chink of a spent shell case dancing on the pavement to the accompaniment of a silenced shot - then this is not for you. If you have a need to explore, to travel, a love of history and a recognition that the destination justifies the journey, then this is for you, It's a story of love, a story of multiple layers of deceit, a story about struggling with what's important. The quote from Marcel Proust at the front of the book, "Love is a striking example of how little reality means to us", is all you really need to know.

Will it be a film? Who knows, but if you want to get the bragging rights, you'll have to get the e-book! (US) or here (UK)

"Digitally Signed" versions are available directly from the author. These will be PDF format only. Each one will have a personal dedication and can be regarded the "Gold Standard" edition. Although entirely text, the book is quite visual, there are changes of font and font colour that that cannot be displayed in e-book format, or economically in print. So the PDF version is, by far, the best choice. Each PDF will be password protected. The good news is, it's the same price, $7.00 for US customers and £5.74 for UK. Payment is Paypal only.

If you'd like one, just send an e-mail, give us your name and any dedication requests, we will send you the PDF, once you have it send the paypal payment and we will send you the password. This is all very human, so allow a little bit of time please! Request PDF


Earlier Reviews:

"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."

5.0 out of 5 stars South makes the complexity so elegant and the ambiguity so fine that I am totally gratified after reading "Of our ... 13 Mar. 2017
By Quynh An - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I usually prefer the simplicity and clarity, but M.K.South makes the complexity so elegant and the ambiguity so fine that I am totally gratified after reading "Of our own device". There is so much more to this book , but some standout points for me are:
- A heart-warming trip back in time
- A gripping and moving love story
- A powerful insight into the real Cold War events and time
- An enjoyment and thrill of a succulent spy story
- A deep understanding of the Russian character & the Russian " irrational" thinking
I wish "Of Our Own Device " to meet it's perfect readers who will love it as I do!

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful


5.0 out of 5 stars Thrilling Cold War Spy Novel with Intense M/M Love Story 11 Mar. 2017
By E.P. Clark - Published on
Format: Kindle Edition
Cold Warriors rejoice! A major fix for your addiction has arrived!

Okay, I'm being tongue in cheek, but "Of Our Own Device" has pretty much everything readers longing for a hit of classic Cold War spy fiction could want. Plus a bunch more. It's a big, sprawling book covering the Gorbachev era and the last years of the DDR, full of intrigue, double-crossing, deep cover operatives, and a very hot romance between CIA operative Jack and Eton, the Russian student he's been assigned to recruit.

So yeah. It's a bit like a John Le Carre novel meets "Brokeback Mountain." If you are a fan of Cold War thrillers, or just like reading about the perestroika era, "Of Our Own Device" will have plenty for you to enjoy. The descriptions of 1980s Moscow and Berlin are chock-a-block full of period detail, making you feel as if you're ducking in and out of metro stations and dodging Ladas and Zhigulis on the rainy streets right along with Jack, as he sneaks off to semi-sanctioned trysts with Eton. The major events and concerns of the late '80s are all there too, and even though we now know how it all turned out, you can't help but wonder and worry along with the characters over the arms race, nuclear winter, and Chernobyl. And then there's the vibrant semi-underground late-Soviet rock scene, of which Eton is a part: he's torn between becoming a nuclear physicist or a rock musician, and frequents both worlds, getting firsthand reports about the Chernobyl disaster while also rubbing shoulders with the likes of Boris Grebenshchikov and the members of Kino (I may have emitted a faint yip of joy at that part, I was so excited to see Viktor Tsoi et al. in fictional "person").

If this sounds like some kind of nostalgic fanfic, there is a certain element of that: there's plenty for late-Soviet devotees to check off while nodding contentedly to themselves. But the book is much more than a checklist of names and events, telling as it does against this background what you might call the ultimate story of forbidden love. Jack is a brash, smooth-talking, good-looking Wyoming cowboy who's supposed to be such a quintessentially loud American that no one would ever take him for a CIA agent. At the same time, he leads a second double life as a bisexual at a time when that was considered to be a major security risk, and has to keep his real inclinations secret even as he's ordered to use his esoteric skill set to seduce Eton, a suspected homosexual in a country where being gay was even more taboo than in the US. Jack isn't conflicted about his sexuality, but he is increasingly conflicted about the duplicity it demands of him, as well as the risk it entails for others: he is supposed to seduce Eton, who may or may not be a KGB agent, flirt with their mutual friend Lara, and maintain flamboyantly obvious relationships with CIA-approved female American partners. Jack is a pretty self-centered guy in the beginning of the novel, but as his attachment to Eton grows, so does his awareness that the games he's playing have real consequences for other people.

As might be guessed from the preceding description, there's a lot to this book, and like Jack and Eton's relationship, it starts off slowly. A super-quick read it's not, but it successfully immerses the reader in its time period and in the heads of its main characters, and as the tension between Jack and Eton builds, so does the suspense. Readers in the historical know will be acutely aware of the major events looming for the unsuspecting characters, and may be hard pressed not to scream at them that they just need to hang on a little longer, just a little bit longer. The last few chapters, set in Berlin in the fall of 1989, are, like the time itself, breathlessly, nail-bitingly chaotic, as the characters scheme and race to get on the right side of a wall that's about to come down. A definite recommendation for fans of spy fiction, Soviet history buffs, and readers looking for an intense M/M love story.

My thanks to the author for providing a review copy of this book. All opinions are my own.