Leslie's Reviews > Once a Spy

Once a Spy by Keith Thomson
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's review
Apr 02, 2011

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bookshelves: thriller, audiobook
Read from April 02 to 09, 2011

Drummond Clark is a retired appliance salesman with Alzheimer’s disease. His son, Charlie Clark, has been betting a little too heavily on the horses and is thousands of dollars in debt to loan sharks. After another losing day at the race track Charlie receives a call that his father was found wandering the streets of Brooklyn and could he please come and pick him up. He does and as the two approach Drummond’s home they hear a loud explosion as the house blows up. Charlie thinks the loan sharks are after him but it soon becomes apparent that they are after Drummond who was never an appliance saleman but instead a CIA spy.

All of this happens in the first few chapters. The story is fast-paced, original and clever. There are lots of car chases, shootings, bad guys and action as we race across the country evading the assassins that want to eliminate Drummond for security reasons. Drummond possesses sensitive information that could fall in the wrong hands and he can’t be trusted due to his failing memory.

At times events seem to occur a little too conveniently as Drummond’s memory and former skills come back to him and then fade away. I don’t know if this is an accurate representation of how Alzheimer’s affects a person, but I will say it was treated with feeling and sensitivity. If this were a tense, tightly wound spy thriller such as those written by Ludlum or Clancy I don’t think it would work, but that is not what this book tries to be. It’s a thriller, yes, but it’s also satire and doesn’t take itself seriously. Accept that premise and enjoy the ride.

I would have liked a little more character development and a better understanding of Drummond’s relationship with his son. After years of not being close they are now acting as a team and are very trusting of each other. Maybe that will be expanded upon in book two of the series, Twice a Spy. I listened to the audio version of this book and found the narration to be adequate. It didn’t deter from or add to the story. I have the print version of the second book so I will be able to make a better comparison after I read it.

If you like a light, fast-paced spy thriller I would recommend this book.
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