Tuesday, April 5, 2011

Once a Spy

Once a Spy
by Keith Thomson

I was ready for a spy thriller. I was ready for a ride. I was ready for Drummond Clark and his son, Charlie, the two main protagonists of Once A Spy by Keith Thomson.
Rich and I went to go see Keith Thomson at The Poisoned Pen over Spring Break. He thrilled the whole place when he brought in a drone flying craft and then truly wowed us when he began to speak about the premise of his books. Alzheimers. Mmmm.

Drummond Clark is a legendary spy who purports to be simply an appliance salesman. A spy, however, is only as good as the secrets he can keep and with the onset of early Alzheimer's, Drummond's rapidly deteriorating mind is now a threat to national security.
Charlie, is Drummond's 31 year old son who hasn't 'found himself' yet.
He's wasting his life playing the ponies.
When Charlie becomes aware of both his father's dementia AND his secret spy-life a frenzied adventure begins. Charlie tries to keep his father alive for those rare moments when his dad can 'pull it together.' That is no small job.
But wow, when Dad is lucid, he is lucid!! Sharp as a tack and lethal.
Drummond seems to 'snap out of it' when tension is high and the peril is great.
Thomson spoke about the effects of Alzheimer's and how many patients will become lucid and clear when under the greatest stress and need. He stated that when he was writing he pictured Charlie taking the lead until, at the last minute, Drummond would 'come out of it.'

Keith Thomson certainly enjoys his two main characters.
I loved the dynamic of Drummond and Charlie.
Charlie was ambivalent about his dad, was saddened by the early death of his mom, and could be angst ridden and bitter, but Thomson crafted a different father and son duo.
Charlie just accepts what and who his dad is.
Drummond simply does not remember, and to his credit, Charlie realizes that it would be cruel to remind his dad of the missed holidays and birthdays.
Instead they begin virtually with a clean slate - almost every time that his dad 'comes to' and remembers something. Every new minute or hour is a new chance for them to begin their relationship again.
I really enjoyed their banter and how Charlie grew to appreciate his dad.

My favorite line -
Drummond realizes that he has Alzheimer's. As Drummond has to get both himself and his son out of a real sticky situation, Charlie is amazed at what his father can do, that he knows so much and that he can basically clean up on almost any bad guy. When Charlie praises his dad, Drummond responded:

"The hard part is acting like I do it all the time." (p. 144)

Boy, I love that!! (I can relate.)

Rich is happy I'm done - he's been waiting patiently for his turn at the book.
Here ya go, dear!

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