Ben Oliver


Damascus Station

18 May 2023

A CIA officer recruits a Syrian woman to help provide information on the Assad regime during the uprising. Things get dicey when they fall in love and get embroiled in a cat and mouse chase with the government.

Written by a bona fide former CIA analyst, this novel revels in detail and tradecraft and works really well as a slightly nerdy thriller in spite of its slightly clumsy characterisation.

There’s an amusing endorsement on the front by former CIA boss David Petraeus, who is familiar with inappropriate workplace shagging.

McCloskey makes an effort to tell the story from several sides, which largely pays off especially as the narrative starts to twist and turn. There’s a plausability to it which he keeps a tight grip on, letting his guard down only for a few moments of irony or coincidence (it is entertainment after all).

It’s far from perfect and very much an American perspective on Syria despite its best efforts, but I love this sort of shit.

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