“ Genre: Thriller. Audio book narrated by Danny Campbell. „
Once A Spy by Keith Thomson
== Plot ==
This is the first novel in the Charlie / Drummond Clark series.
The story revolves around one of the CIA's top spy's, Drummond Clark who now suffers from Alzheimer's. The CIA decide the best way to make sure the secrets in the former spy's head stay there is to kill him.
With the help of Charlie, his gambling addicted son, who always thought his dad was an appliance salesman, they try to dodge and escape the various hit men sent after them . . .
== My thoughts ==
Drummond Clark has to be my favourite character. He is a young 64 years old who help create one of the CIA's most secretive and best unit's known as the Cavalry. He is now retired and has Alzheimer's. This has affected his memory and ability to remember things and also to process what is going on around him. He sometimes experiences random short periods of lucidity where he can remember his past life and do all the Bond spy stuff. The times this seems to happen is whenever there is some danger especially to Charlie. I thought he reminded me of what James Bond would be like if he was an old aged pensioner and had a condition that affected his memory. I found the contrast funny - one moment he's being James Bond and the next he's an old aged pensioner.
At the start, father and son are both estranged from each other, but circumstances end up bringing them together. Charlie always thought his father was a stern and boring appliance salesman, but when his father starts acting like James Bond and saving his life, he changes his mind. There are some funny situations as a result.
Overall, I enjoyed this, primarily because of the witty light-hearted tone it is written in. The plot is standard fare but I liked how the relationship between Charlie and his father, Drummond Clark, developed throughout the novel. Nuclear weapons are mentioned, which I found a very run of the mill plot device and boring. However, I managed to enjoy the witty repartee between Drummond and Charlie Clark. In addition, the fact that one of the main characters has an illness that affects his memory and general ability, helps the novel to give a unique twist on the standard spy novel. I would like to think I get to learn about what Alzheimer's is and how it affects people. It is not something I would normally look up or research.
== Audio narration ==
This is available from the Audible site and is published by Random House Audio. The narrator is Danny Campbell and this was 11 hours and 45 mins in length. It was unabridged. I didn't like the narrator's voice. It has a rough edge to it and he was unable to give character to the different voices in the novel. The only voice I thought he could do well was that of Drummond Clark. The reader has a deep elderly sounding voice. This meant he couldn't really change his voice much but it suited Drummond's voice.
== Summary and recommendation ==
I give this three stars. This is much better than the next book in this series, Twice A Spy, which repeats many of the same elements as this. I liked the witty and light-hearted tone of the novel and the fact the main character had a illness that meant he wasn't on form all the way through, making it different from most of the normal spy novels out there. It is a book you can easily pick up and read. People who normally don't read spy fiction may enjoy this more as they won't be as familiar with the standard spy plot devices used.