"The Dove" has received great reviews from (drumroll) three excellent authors.
Alex Shaw calls it "superior spy fiction."
The Dove is superior spy fiction from an author who has lived the life his fictional characters now lead.
Happily stationed in Paris, and taking full advantage of its cultural and gastronomic delights, CIA field officer Harry Connolly is pulled into an international spiral of intrigue when he is sent to Moscow to meet a potential new agent. But can the man from the KGB be trusted and is his intel genuine?
The Dove is a great read. Michael R. Davidson has effectively used his insider knowledge of the CIA to create a convincing and gripping narrative. The descriptions of Paris especially are first rate and would not seem out of place in a work of literary fiction. The tradecraft is here, but so are the tools of an accomplished author, and they are used to tell a convincing story.
The Dove is superior spy fiction in every sense.
Jake Needham says "A John LeCarre for our Time."
The magic of John le Carre's spy fiction doesn't come from its daring action sequences. There really aren't any. It comes instead from putting us alongside ordinary people trying to do their best in extraordinary circumstances and introducing us to the dread and anxiety which dogs their working lives. 'The Dove' was written by a man who spent most of his own working life as a covert operative for the CIA, working mostly in denied areas. He knows the real intelligence agents, the ordinary joes who are out there every day getting done what needs to be done. Sometimes his life even depended on them. Who better to wrap you up in a spy story that is both atmospheric and credible?
David Edgerley Gates calls it "A terrific Cold War spy story, authentic and thought provoking."
1987, the Cold War. Reagan is president, Gorbachev is General Secretary. The Russians are mired in Afghanistan, ground down by attrition, death by inches. What if there’s a way to bleed them out faster?
CIA’s chief of operations at the Paris station is approached by French security. We have a potential KGB defector, in Moscow, they tell him. But for us it’s a Denied Area. We don’t have the resources to operate there. You do. Harry Connolly, CIA operations, knows Rule One: There are friendly countries, but no such thing as friendly intelligence services. What do the French want in return?
It turns out the French want the product. They’ve just been beat out of the biggest arms deal in history by the British, a total of 20 billion pounds sterling, to the Saudis, and the French smell a rat. The defector in Moscow has inside information on the arms sale.
The defector has access to the material because his skill set is technology theft. KGB has a compromised asset inside the Saudi deal, but more to the point, CIA could use the defector’s knowledge to map Soviet weaknesses. Where are the gaps, what’s on their shopping list, which specific technology problems are they targeting?
And we’re off. Paris to Moscow, Paris to DC. London to Riyadh, London to Geneva. Harry has good tradecraft, and he begins to pull the threads together. Everybody’s got a piece, from the fixer for a Saudi prince, Mohammed Attar, to the British procurement minister James Abbott, to banker and bagman Wafiq al Salah, to the Novosti correspondent Nikolay Kozlov, a KGB spook under journalistic cover, and the hapless defector-in-place Stepan Barsikov, giving classified information to the West because he’s defeated at love. The journey crosses personal landscapes as much as physical distance. And interestingly, not everybody learns everything. There are things left hidden, or unspoken.
And the last question, the historical one, about the end of the Soviet Union, did they fall or were they pushed? It’s perfectly plausible, as The Dove suggests, that the Russians could be goaded into overreach and overspending. Imperial ambition, with an economy on the edge of collapse, and political hardening of the arteries, the Old Guard unable and unwilling to accept reform, meant the system was on life-support, and ready to collapse of its own weight. They were perched on a narrow ledge. Gravity did the rest. Oh, and maybe just a small thumb on the scale.