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The Old Boys (Paul Christopher #9)

3.77  ·  Rating Details ·  459 Ratings  ·  38 Reviews
Charles McCarry returns to the world of his legendary character, Paul Christopher, the crack intelligence agent who is as skilled at choosing a fine wine as he is at tradecraft, at once elegant and dangerous, sophisticated and rough-and-ready. As the novel begins, Paul Christopher, now an aging but remarkably fit 70ish, is dining at home with his cousin Horace, also an ex- ...more
ebook, 512 pages
Published June 3rd 2004 by The Overlook Press
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(showing 1-30)
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Charles McCarry has been writing his Paul Christopher novels for forty years. I've read several of the novels over the past twenty-eight years - going back to high school. When I started the series I was a teenager and the Soviet Union still existed. Both are now gone, but Charles McCarry is still writing about his Cold War creation. Interestingly a creation that he has allowed to age and continue into the present. No more Cold War, no more Soviets and a world wide situation that is just as mess ...more
Aug 21, 2009 Susan rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McCarry was always one of my favorites in the age of the Cold War thriller (in books like The Last Supper and The Tears of Autumn). This one is maybe not as good as Le Carre’s one about “old spies” (Absolute Friends) but it’s good and I enjoyed it a lot. Basically it’s the story of 5 old spies, superannuated from the CIA, who join forces to find another one of them who’s disappeared and been reported dead in Western China. They don’t believe it and set out to find him. They’re all 60ish or more— ...more
Apr 08, 2010 Tripp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
One of life's minor pleasures is reading a book that has been on your shelf for years. I have had Charles McCarry's Old Boys for six or seven years. It's not that I didn't want to read it, but it was the first McCarry I acquired. Having bought it, I realized it was a series book and that I would have to go about purchasing the, then out of print and hard to find, earlier books. I spent some time tracking down used copies and then Overlook Press reprinted his books. So, I've now caught up and cou ...more
Feb 05, 2017 Simon rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: mystery-101
2.5 stars. I'd never read this author before and I should have started with an earlier work, because I think I missed a lot of connections. There's a promising setup about a missing spy and the colleagues who come out of retirement to find him, but there's so much plot (Islamic terrorism, ww2 espionage, a scroll from Biblical times, falconry) that we lose track of both the emotional journey and the tradecraft. The ending feels like an '80s action movie. Disappointing, but I'll try another by thi ...more
Pris robichaud
Jan 04, 2009 Pris robichaud rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition

The "Outfit", The Insiders Name For The CIA, 20 Mar 2006

"THE BRITISH ARE generally considered the nonpareils in foreign-intrigue literature. Although they didn't invent the genre, they perfected it, and are credited with the first spy novel that can be considered serious literature, Erskine Childers' still enthralling 1903 classic, The Riddle of the Sands." Morton Marcus
The most enthralling spy novels, I think come from the British. This is my first introduction to Charles McCarry. I know not w
I'm not sure if it's just this book or McCarry's work in general but I found this unusually slow going. This is my third or forth Paul Christopher novel and a strong contender for my last.

My chief criticism of his novels is the lack of character development. I don't think it's asking too much for words to do something other than sit flat on a page even after they've been read.

This book in particular presented characters so flat they're borderline interchangeable. You'd probably need a razor sc
Apr 05, 2016 megan-redwitch rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
i almost went with a two but just couldn't. the plot is uninteresting and filled with things i feel like i am supposed to fill in somehow because the author just didn't bother - and the weak side-plot didn't help either. the characters felt so cardboard-cutout i found myself not even bothering to remember their names half the time - i think a first for me. some interesting mystery notes in the start held no real mystery and the end simply ends, falls flat doesn't seem accurate enough. the author ...more
Apr 26, 2013 Chris rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Well, maybe 2 1/2 stars.
This espionage thriller is strong on plot and setting: the story starts with CIA retirees reuniting to search for a comrade who may or may not be dead (and who may also in turn be searching for his mother, who ALSO may or may not be dead). Add to this sundry mercenary killers, a shadowy 'Gray Force' led by 'Kevin' :) the requisite Islamic nutcase with very deadly weapons, and the original manuscript of an apocryphal story from the life of Jesus. And Nazis, too. McCarry ke
Dec 30, 2008 Tom rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: 2009-books-read
Paul Christopher is the subject of this book, but he's missing and being sought by a group of former spooks lead by his nephew Horace Hubbard, who had been disgraced from the service in an earlier book.
This McCarry novel reintroduces Lori Christopher and Zarah Christopher, and leads the Old Boys all over the world playing a deadly game of mystery and intrigue suggested by Paul Christopher before his disappearance.
McCarry really impresses me with his subplots and knowledge of falconing, Cold War
Ian Robb
Sep 17, 2012 Ian Robb rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McCarrey has written as series of good espionage stories with two characters, Paul Christopher and Horace Hubbard. Years ago Paul’s mother Lori, living in Germany was kidnapped by a Nazi. She managed to have him killed and escaped with a scroll about early Christianity with an interesting twist that Paul is really a Roman agent who planted Judas in with the disciples. Now at least 50 years later Paul has disappeared looking for his mother and Horace gets some old ex spies to try to fnd her. They ...more
Sep 04, 2016 Patrick rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
First time with this author, and not a good start.

This is a spy thriller that lacks thrills. It has MacGuffins out the wazoo. A lot of plot that gets in the way of the story. Wafer-thin characters. Magic technology.

And now, Budapest, er, Vienna, whoops, Tajikistan, nope, Washington, um, no, we're in, uh, Brazil now?

I might check out one of the earlier titles in this series, but only because the other reviews indicate that "Old Boys" is an aberration.

Also -- there are a lot of copy editing err
Jun 19, 2009 Nathaniel rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
As a fan of Charles McCarry and a believer that an espionage novel can transcend literary bounds - "The Last Supper" being an example of this - I found this book to be beyond awful. I can't count the number of times I put it down in frustration, only to return in the hopes that a glimmer of the characters and writer I had enjoyed so much in previous works would appear. None of them do. The premise is weak, the plot barely conceived and poorly fleshed out. A number of times I found myself insisti ...more
Michael A.
Oct 30, 2013 Michael A. rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Very disappointing, after so many well written other books about the legendary Paul Christopher!
Hard to believe this was actually penned by McCarry it is that different. I suspect the publishers saw an opportunity when the back catalogue starting selling so well when the new editions came out. Was this a concept that was given to ghost writer to complete, trying to tie up the one remaining mystery about his parents.
Oct 15, 2016 bookworm rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: thriller
Not one of McCarry's best. I had previously read "The Shanghai Factor" and found it much more gripping. This one has too many subplots and too many characters to consistently hold your attention. However, it's a tribute to the author that, even when he's mediocre, he's enjoyable Don't make this your first McCarry novel: based on the reviews I've seen, either "The Miernik Dossier" of "The Tears of Autumn" are your best bets.
Susan Springer
Touted as a Paul Christopher spy thriller, this book is really about his cousin, Horace Hubbard, trying
to find the supposedly deceased Christopher with the help of five of the "Old Boys" of the "Outfit".
None of these characters is even remotely as interesting as the legendary Christopher so I found it
disappointing. Doesn't hold a candle to "The Tears of Autumn".
I'd heard lots about McCarry and this series, and was interested this. At times Paul Christopher is a bit too enigmatic for me to really grasp, but his cousin's devotion is touching-- indeed the whole family is devoted, in an isolated, loner kind of way. I particularly liked learning so much about falconry and hawks.
Nov 03, 2013 Lenore rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is McCarry having a little fun, and it's more fun for the reader if he/she is familiar with the previous books about Paul Christopher and his family. McCarry's other books are serious meditations about espionage and politics. This one pokes a little fun at the genre, while exploring the nature of loyalty among family and comrades.
Charles Kerns
What happened Mr. McCarry? This is a simple-minded action flick, nothing like your old work. The characters coud be cartoons. The explosions are big, locals exotic, and villians more Bond-like than your old adversaries. Did you really write this?
Jan 10, 2009 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Like Ross Thomas and Graham Greene (at least, Greene's espionage fiction), McCarry relies on wit and solid characterization to carry his story. In this case, the subplot involving Saul of Tarsus as Christ's "handler" is one of the funnier and more fascinating leitmotifs in spy fiction.
Christopher Culp
Aug 17, 2012 Christopher Culp rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
After a long time away from writing about Paul Christopher, McCarry returns in masterful form. All the usual suspects are here, along with the typical byzantine plot and surprises. In reading this I felt like an old friend with whom I had lost touch had returned.
Brandon Gryder
Jun 25, 2014 Brandon Gryder rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
McCarry is the master. Hands down and no doubt.
Lyle Krewson
A very nice read, fast paced, espionage of high order.
Noel Evans
Aug 01, 2011 Noel Evans rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The best spy writer ever....
Dec 28, 2012 Gary rated it liked it
Shelves: 2013
I'd never heard of Charles McCarry until recently (this is the first book I've read of his) but I love this spy fiction stuff and he does it well. Gotta get my hands on some of his earlier stuff now.
J. Ewbank
This was an excellent book by Charles McCarry. Very readable and interesting.

J. Robert Ewbank author "John Wesley, Natural Man, and the 'Isms'"
Jan 23, 2009 Josef rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Perhaps the best espionage book I've ever read. By far the best Charles McCarry out there IMHO. However please note, if you are an easily offended Christian, you might want to pass on this one.
Aug 28, 2013 Dave rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
Rather tedious - glad to have finished it.
Jun 14, 2007 Cindy rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a new author for me deemed to be the best espionage writer today. You can tell he definitely use to be a spy for the CIA. It was a good mystery!
Nov 30, 2011 Marilyn rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
The main downside to the end of the cold war was the demise of the intellectual spy novel. This one solves that problem.
Aug 11, 2011 Steve rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
This was, surprisingly, excellent. I initially though "Oh, not another spy story!", but it's so well written, with a very dry wit. Definitely worth a read.
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  • Background to Danger
  • Red Gold (Night Soldiers, #5)
  • A Darkening Stain (Bruce Medway, #4)
  • The Once and Future Spy
  • Blow the House Down
  • Charlie M (Charlie Muffin, #1)
  • The Bridge of Sighs (The Yalta Boulevard Sequence #1)
  • Typhoon
  • An Expensive Place to Die
  • The Last Raven  (Kenneth Aubrey and Patrick Hyde, #7)
  • A Game of Spies
McCarry served in the United States Army, where he was a correspondent for Stars and Stripes, has been a small-town newspaperman, and was a speechwriter in the Eisenhower administration. From 1958 to 1967 he worked for the CIA, under deep cover in Europe, Asia, and Africa. However, his cover was not as a writer or journalist.

McCarry was editor-at-large for National Geographic and has contributed
More about Charles McCarry...

Other Books in the Series

Paul Christopher (10 books)
  • The Miernik Dossier (Paul Christopher #1)
  • The Tears of Autumn (Paul Christopher #2)
  • The Secret Lovers (Paul Christopher #3)
  • The Better Angels (Paul Christopher #4)
  • The Last Supper (Paul Christopher #5)
  • The Bride of the Wilderness (Paul Christopher #6)
  • Second Sight (Paul Christopher #7)
  • Shelley's Heart (Paul Christopher #8)
  • Christopher's Ghosts (Paul Christopher #10)

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“...and I was reminded....of the everday boredom of a life in espionage. One is always waiting for someone who does not show up,for something that does not happen.” 2 likes
“Suddenly, in the here and now, everything depended on the houbara bustard.” 2 likes
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