Once a Spy by Keith Thomson

Once a SpyOnce a Spy by Keith Thomson

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I came across this thanks to Mystery Scene magazine where I have found many great recommendations.

Imagine a super spy managing to live long enough to develop Alzheimer’s. What happens when he may inadvertently let slip some of the big secrets he knows?

Such is the premise of this really enjoyable book. Drummond Clark is the aging spy in question. His son Charlie is addicted to betting at the track and desperately trying to figure out how he’s going to pay back a Russian mobster when his father turns up missing. All Charlie is trying to do is to return his father home and figure out which assisted living facility would be best, while skimming enough to pay his debts. However, repeated “coincidental” attempts on their lives send them on the lam for a simultaneously humorous and touching attempt to escape.

The scene at the beginning of the book when the father slips his leash of “company” monitors is a great example of the combination of unconscious trained stealth and Alzheimer’s with which Charlie must deal for the remainder of the book. Along the way Charlie and his father spend time together, some lucidly and some not, in a way they never did before … and Charlie discovers that his gambling career and natural talent combine unexpectedly to help keep them alive.

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