Drummond Clark was once a spy of legendary proportions. Now Alzheimer's disease has taken its toll and he's just a confused old man who's wandered away from home, waiting for his son to fetch him.
When Charlie Clark takes a break from his latest losing streak at the track to bring Drummond back to his Brooklyn home, they find it blown sky high - and then bullets start flying in every direction. At first, Charlie thinks his Russian creditors are employing aggressive collection tactics. But once Drummond effortlessly hot-wires a car as their escape vehicle, Charlie begins to suspect there's much more to his father than meets the eye.
He soon discovers that Drummonds unremarkable career as an appliance salesman was actually a clever cover for an elaborate plan to sell would-be terrorists faulty nuclear detonators. Drummond's intricate knowledge of the device is extremely dangerous information to have rattling around in an Alzheimer's-addled brain. The CIA wants to contain him - and so do some other shady characters who send Charlie and Drummond on a wild chase that gives father-and-son quality time a whole new meaning.
With Once a Spy, Keith Thomson makes his debut on the thriller stage with energy, wit, and style to spare.
©2010 Keith Thomson (P)2010 Random House
"Huffington Post columnist Thomson's wildly original debut, a darkly satirical thriller, features an unlikely, if endearing, father-son spy duo....Poignant themes of love and redemption underpin an action-packed story line that includes exotic locales, high-tech gadgetry, and international intrigue." (Publishers Weekly)
"Off beat thriller"
I loved this non-formulaic, quirky spy story. The titular spy has Alzheimer's and is therefore a threat to his former employers. He connects with his estranged compulsive gambler son as they try to save themselves. It is an unusual mix of seriousness and levity and these characters were likeable and had dignity instead of being melodramatic or pathetic. It is over the top as far as action goes - way too much gunfire and killing - and that detracted from the story for me, but that is my only complaint. It was a very enjoyable listen and I recommend it.
"Action all the way!"
This is a non-stop action novel, where the father & son protagonists constantly escape the frying pan only to end up in the fire. Charlie, is something of a ne'er-do-well, suffering in the midst of the mess he has made of his life. On top of his own troubles, Charlie discovers that his aging father, Drummond, was once a spy, and is now marked for death. Drummond has alzheimer's disease, which could cause him to reveal high-level secrets that he carries in his head. The two manage to escape hopeless situation after hopeless situation throughout the story. Along the way Charlie gains respect for his father and confidence in his own talents. This is what I would call a "guy" story, and for me the constant action/escape sequences got repetitive. But the characters were so likable, that overall it was quite enjoyable.
"I want more"
I enjoyed the concept of the book but had doubts about how the plot could be sustained. I was delightfully wrong. The plot keeps evolving and surprising and you continue to smile all the way through the book. The characters are nicely drawn and are deep enough to be distinctive and memorable. I finished the book and went directly on line to see what else Keith Thomson has written. Unfortunately, this is the only book (so far). I want more.
"It's a Book. It's a Movie. It's Loads of Fun."
It's a Book. It's a Movie. It's Loads of Fun. This is a wonderfully cinematic story. Not many thriller writers pull off such graphic excitement, and although the body count is high, it has more the flavor of a comic romp than a gory tale. Characters are rich and endearing.
I will cast Paul Newman as the dad in my imaginary film.
Hope you all enjoy.
This is one of my first spy novels, and I really enjoyed it. The characters develop really well and it keeps your attention the whole time. Very entertaining.
"a nice read, fun"
This is a nice book, it is unusual, a bit odd and entertaining all the way through. I look forward to another effort by Mr. Thomson. If you are looking through the offerings and wish you could find some new litte gem that up until now was under your radar then give this book a try, I think you will be happy you did.
a great bubble gum spy novel.
a great treadmill read or book for walking the dog.
Even though I wouldn't read it again, this book succeeded in keeping my attention and wondering how it would end. Good thing is that author left the end to us, in a way, it wouldn't be nice if everything ended like Hollywood lemonade. I won't mind reading the sequel.
I thought narrator was overstating some words a bit and I didn't like that. Dialogues were great though.
Best line? After shooting a guy with a gun from unbelievable distance, Drummond says that it is harder to make it look like he's doing it every day. Great line, and it was just one of many.
"Not your usual spy novel"
Interesting twist on a spy novel and I enjoyed it all the way through. Not sure I am up for the sequel but it was a good use of a credit.
It was a nice concept but it was just too painful to keep listening in and out of Drummonds episodes. I have seen the effects of Alzheimer's first hand with grandparents, and it is a horrible disease for which I am happy that Mr. Thomson brings it to the forefront. However, the amount of conspiracy theories that would have to be put in place after every scene is far too much to accept in anyone sitting. This is why I listened to the book over several 45 minute walks because I just couldn't take it. I still have 8 minutes left and I have no desire to finish.
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