Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Once a Spy, by Keith Thomson- Review

The fine folks over a Doubleday recently sent me Once a Spy and it's brand new follow up, Twice a Spy.  And what a treat! The hubby and I both ate them up like candy.  Let me say, if your looking for an action packed read that can make you cringe and laugh (sometimes at the same moment) then this series is for you.

Once a Spy is the impressive debut novel from author Keith Thomson, who himself isn't too shabby.  His resume inludes being a semi-pro baseball player in France, editorial cartoonist for Newsday, award winning filmmaker who's short was at Sundance, and a screenwriter. Nowadays he writes about intelligence and the likes for The Huffington Post.  Obviously if the theory write what you know best really does work then he has a whole wealth of stuff he could write about well.

Charlie Clark is a bit of a low life. In his early thirties, with a bad horse gambling habit getting him in progressivly bigger and bigger trouble and no real realtionship with his dad, life doesn't seem like it could get much worse.  That is until he gets a call from a dowtown agency who's found his father wandering the streets in his pjs.  His father, Drummond Clark appears to have early onset Alzheimers, which although bad in many average ways, is now disasterous because it turns out he wasn't as average as he pretended during Charlies childhood.  Really he was a top level spy. 
Obviously crazyness insues, in all sorts of James Bondish ways. 

Now listen.  I've been a James Bond fan since I was a wee lass, goldfinger was my favorite by the time I was about 8 (come on, it had a gold girl in it! can there be any question of favorites?), and I still love an action packed spy thriller.  Keith Thomson managed to hit all the well loved moments of any spy thriller, but with an entirely fresh take.  Having an aging spy that alternates between super spy and lost 64 year old appliance salesman, coupled with the thirty something son who's trying his best to keep up in a totally new, crazy world was a brilliant play and is what makes this story particularly great.

Best of all, this wasn't just a straight up spy thriller, there was a lot of humor too.   Drummond has this tendancy to announce "An interesting fact about..." pretty much any time he loses the trail of what's going on and Charlie is desperatly trying to keep them alive.  It's funny, ridiculous and endearing all at the same time, and these lighter moments are what makes me think Once a Spy would be appealing to a wide range of readers.  Keith Thomson obviously knows a very great deal about various intelligent agencies and there is some truly complicated bits in this book when he starts to delve deep into the spy world.  But then he throws in some chuckle worthy moment and lightens it up.  I suspect even those who would be normally bored by the spy semantics are likely to be entertained by Charlie and Drummonds unintentional adventures.

Thank goodness the hubby has finished Twice a Spy, I can't wait to dig in!

Once a Spy, By Keith Thomson
Published by Anchor, paperback January 2011
Keith Thomson's website
Buy Once A Spy on Amazon

1 comment:

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