Book Review: The Damascus Cover, by Howard Kaplan

Publisher: Howard Kaplan   |  Publication date: 7th August 2014   |  Edition: Kindle (Review Copy) Damascus - My Review

The Damascus CoverSpies, lies and mission that seems nigh on impossible. 

Ari Ben-Sion is an agent of dubious reliability after his previous conduct in the field met with dire consequences.

Feeling redundant, pushing papers in an office, Ari learns of a mission in Damascus and volunteers for the task. It’s a dangerous job, but someone’s got to do it. Soon, Ari finds himself effortlessly channelling a furniture procurer by the name of Hans Hoffman, an alto ego that will assist him in his role.

In order to smuggle a group of children out of the city, Ari / Hans has been tasked with infiltrating the Nazi population, who, despite the end of the War, are still carrying out their persecution of the Jewish population there.

The finger of doom appears to be relentlessly prodding our agent on this mission. Following a catalogue of mishaps, no shows, and his cover potentially being blown he finds himself sweating, and not because of the weather.

The rendezvous date is getting closer. Cut off from any outside help Ari / Hans is faced with making rash decisions, but experience tells him that he cannot afford to make mistakes as the punishment that would befit a spy would be severe.

Among the secrets there’s an added dash of love interest, as his time is spent in the company of a gorgeous photographer, Kim Johnson. Despite their involvement Ari keeps his true identity concealed, which encourages his lady friend to develop a furtive curiosity about him.

There’s plenty of suspicion and certain events will lead you to feel compassion for this bloke out on a limb, although, after reading the book summary I’d geared myself up for more gripping suspense and drama throughout. Personally, I didn’t feel it picked up the ‘thrilling pace’ I’d anticipated until I’d almost reached the end of the book and the finale arrived with the most unexpected shock.

Overall The Damascus Cover has a solid, steady plot and is set in a hostile, yet intriguing location. It’s certainly worth a look if you’re a spy thriller fan.

Rating: 3/5

(I’m grateful to the author for providing a digital copy of this book in exchange for my honest review.)

Damascus - Book Summary

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)



In a last ditch effort to revive his career, washed out agent Ari Ben-Sion accepts a mission he never would have 30 years ago, to smuggle a group of Jewish children out of the Damascus ghetto. Or so he thinks. In Damascus, a beautiful American photographer, Kim, seems to be falling in love with Ari, but she is asking too many questions. His communication equipment disappears. His contact never shows up. The operation is only hours away and everything seems awry.

Desperate to succeed, Ari might risk everything. Even his life.

Feature film of The Damascus Cover starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers, Sir John Hurt, Olivia Thirlby, Jurgen Prochnow and Navid Negahban finished shooting in Casablanca and Jerusalem Summer 2015.


Damascus - Author Profile

(Courtesy of Amazon UK)

HOWARD KAPLAN, a native of Los Angeles, has lived in Israel and travelled extensively through Lebanon, Syria and Egypt. At the age of 21, while attending school in Jerusalem, he was sent on a mission into the Soviet Union to smuggle out a dissident’s manuscript on microfilm. His first trip was a success. On his second trip to the Soviet Union, he was arrested in Kharkov in the Ukraine and interrogated for two days there and two days in Moscow, before being released. He holds a BA in Middle East History from UC Berkeley and an MA in the Philosophy of Education from UCLA. He is the author of four novels.

On March 23, 2015 film shoot wrapped on the feature film DAMASCUS COVER starring Jonathan Rhys Meyers and Sir John Hurt. My photographs from the set, and other updates, can be found on my Facebook Author Page:


Please note:  The book cover and film poster included in this post were provided by the author, with my thanks.