IN THIS STIMULATING debut novel, protagonist Dr. Milt Davidson, a pathologist working at a NYC medical school, is recruited by the CIA to provide intelligence on Russian military bioweapons research involving odors that target the brain.
Under the guise of a research sabbatical on environmental exposures to noxious odors, as well as a cover of starting up a Moscow-based biopharmaceutical company focused on developing odor therapies for neurological diseases, the young scientist/novice spy quickly becomes entangled in romances with female spies that pose risks to both the mission and his life.
Because the sense of smell is the least studied and understood of our five senses, this novel introduces a potentially new drug therapy involving smelling defined odors, as well as insight into an international competition on the use of scents in bioweaponry.
Can Milt escape the scrutiny of the Russian military GRU? Can he gain the loyalty of the Jewish chemist who directs the Russian research on odor bioweapons? The answers to these questions unfold over the page-turning course of this exciting first novel breaking through the conventional genre, leaving us yearning for the sequel.
The science described is authentic, but the author speculates on new medical approaches for both the lay reader and scientist.
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In his debut novel, David M. Goldenberg hits it out of the park with The Scenturion Spy.
I suspect Dr. Milt Davidson, the main character of this spy-thriller, is autobiographical, building on Goldenberg’s experiences as a physician-scientist and biotech entrepreneur. The book begins with Milt and his efforts to build an academic career in cancer and neurologic research. A side project in olfactory receptors leads Davidson to form a pharmaceutical company for novel drug delivery. The CIA soon comes calling, and Milt is swept up into the world of international espionage, where countries race to use this technology as a bioweapon to deliver mind-altering signals. Central to the story is the romantic relationship between Milt and Marie Chalfont, an alluring woman who works for a Paris perfume company but has ties to both French Intelligence and the Israeli Mossad.
The storyline moves across the streets of New York City, Paris, Tel Aviv, and Moscow, involving a myriad of characters that add to the intrigue. Venture capital from a Russian oligarch allows Milt to open an office and set up clinical trials in Moscow. He is soon active in the upper echelons of the scientific community and social elites of Moscow. Milt tries to learn more about Russian plans for olfactory bioweapons. Soon, suspicions arise that Marie might be a double agent for the Russians.
The Scenturion Spy is a captivating debut filled with intriguing characters. The storyline, set in the modern day, has all the attributes of a great spy novel and leaves you asking for the sequel.
David Goldenberg tells the story of a physician-scientist becoming a spy for the CIA in olfaction weaponry. I loved it; he tells the story beautifully, with amazing details. The science, the startup issues, the departmental politics, the wrenching anguish, and dilemmas of entering the spy world while wanting to continue his fantastic research … all described faithfully while keeping the interest of the reader engaged. I greatly enjoyed it, and finished it in two sittings.
The Scenturion Spy, Book 1: Becoming A Spy is an engaging debut novel by Dr. David M. Goldenberg, in which the central character, Dr. Milt Davidson, is sucked into the web of international espionage, quite unwittingly and unwillingly, which takes him away from his job as associate professor of pathology and his research in oncology in the fictional Empire State University. His side passion of investigating the sense of smell in modulating behavior and the possibility of using odors for therapeutic applications is what gets him in the CIA’s radar since the same approach can also be used in principle to deliver mood altering or lethal substances. The main theme of the book, namely becoming a spy, is fascinatingly interspersed with the process of scientific discovery and the associated thrill of getting it published, the mechanics of putting together a business based on an innovative idea in olfaction with the involvement of a patent attorney, venture capitalists, incorporation in multiple cities, and the protagonist’s romantic involvement with another spy. Non-scientist and non-entrepreneurial readers will get interesting peeks into scientific research and business ventures. The novel is rich in details: meeting venues, restaurants, various characters’ looks and attires, and culinary and wine details are all described beautifully.
The dangerous world of espionage is captured rivetingly in this novel. The most intriguing character in this besides the protagonist is Marie Chalfont, and an aspect pertaining to her is alluded to at the end. During all the spy-talk, to which Dr. Davidson pays careful attention, the mystery behind the olfaction endeavor in the adversary’s territory is about to unravel, and this is likely to be the focus in a follow-up book.
This book is an easy and fascinating read. I eagerly look forward to its continuation in subsequent book(s).
I read it, loved it, and was hooked on the plot immediately. Years ago, I visited the Weizmann Institute of Science in Rehovot, Israel. Our group watched a presentation by a doctoral student who was working on developing machines that could smell, among other things, explosives and bombs so that bomb sniffing dogs wouldn’t be killed. Thus, the concept of using the sense of smell for offensive military applications seemed totally plausible to me.
I was intrigued by the character Marie as an agent of the Mossad. I’ve gotten quite invested in her and hope to see more of her in the forthcoming book.
As I was reading and reflecting on the what I already knew about the author, I kept feeling like this was written almost as an autobiography. I really liked the way he used italics to advise the reader what the main character was really thinking as he experienced certain interactions.
I think there are very few people, with both the scientific and business background that the author possesses, that could have written a book like this and anxiously await the next one.
Mosquitoes depend on it to identify their prey! Could we use our poorly understood sense of smell (olfaction) to treat tough diseases (good), or to control others (bad). The accomplished physician-scientist and now author, Dr. David Goldenberg, introduces us to Dr. Davidson (Milt to his friends), his protagonist in The Scenturion Spy, Book One, also a physician-scientist exploring the science and therapeutic potential of manipulation of olfaction. However, he is conscripted by the CIA to spy on Russians developing olfactory bioweapons to control humans in the most horrible ways. Follow the incredible science and the “stink” of multiple intelligence agencies as they stay on the “scent” of multiple characters trying to capture one of our most potentially powerful senses to control others (and help us too). This fast-pace novel keeps the reader engaged and informed on the science of olfaction and efforts to either control the mind or treat neurological disease.
The author in this first novel sets up what appears to be a planned series of adventures and intrigues yet to come. His perspective is unique, combining his biotech and olfaction experience into an intriguing narrative involving appealing characters and international settings. So off to a very promising start and look forward to twists and turns of the series as it is developed. Given the uniqueness and colorfulness of the story, the series might eventually be suited for a TV streaming series.