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April 19, 2011 / Leslie

Review: Once A Spy

Once A Spy
by Keith Thomson
Read by Danny Campbell

Genre: Spy, Thriller
Publisher: Random House Audio
Publish Date: March 09, 2010
Format: Unabridged Audio Edition
Length: 11 hours and 45 min.
Rating: 3½ of 5

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 salesman 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.

CymLowellI’m participating in Book Review Party Wednesday. Click the link to read more great reviews.


Leave a Comment
  1. Suko / Apr 19 2011 5:48 pm

    Leslie, I’m glad you enjoyed listening to this fast-paced thriller. Very nice review. 🙂


  2. BermudaOnion / Apr 19 2011 6:43 pm

    Things are sometimes convenient in books like this, but that doesn’t bother me at all. This sounds like a good start to a new series.


  3. Carol / Apr 20 2011 12:36 pm

    It’s been a while since I’ve read a spy thriller. This sounds like a good one. And I like that there’s a second one, too.


  4. Beth F / Apr 20 2011 2:00 pm

    Sounds like a good read regardless of the few flaws. This sounds like it might work in either audio or print.


  5. Elizabeth / Apr 20 2011 5:30 pm

    I like spy thrillers….thanks for the comments.

    Stopping by from Cym Lowell’s book review giveaway.



  6. Beth Lowe / Apr 22 2011 10:01 am

    I read this on my e-reader and enjoyed it immensely. Pure fun. I found it a nice break from some of the heavier stuff I’ve been reading. I agree with you, Leslie, about things happening conveniently, but it didn’t bother me. It would make a great movie! I’ve just started the second book in the series, Twice A Spy. Thanks so much for the recommendation – I would never have found it without you.



  1. Review & Giveaway: Twice a Spy « Under My Apple Tree
  2. Audiobook Week « Under My Apple Tree

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