MicroReview: Once a Spy
Once a Spy is Keith Thomson’s debut thriller. I wanted to love it if only for the premise: a CIA agent on medical leave, diagnosed with Alzheimer’s, is pursued by the company, who fears he will compromise (or may have already) national secrets as a result of his condition. It falls to his estranged son, a frustrated gambler who believes his father is nothing more than a simple appliance salesman, to save him from getting scrubbed out by the very men he trained. The plot is creative and the narrative well-paced. But Thomson appears to have taken a few too many writing pointers from Dan Brown. The dialogue is peppered with glib quips and cliches to rival a Bond film. Scenes are over-described with details that characters running for their lives would never notice. Fight sequences include phrases like “most likely crushing his skull” and “he was almost certainly done for.”
Once a Spy is no literary masterpiece, but it is a page-turner—and won’t require much fiddling to be translated into a blockbuster screenplay, already in the works. The sequel, Twice a Spy, came out last year—but I think I’ll wait for the movie.