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Old Boysby Charles McCarry
Synopses & Reviews
Paul Christopher is back — or is he? The answer is in this relentlessly entertaining espionage novel with all the hallmarks of a McCarry bestseller.
Charles McCarry is considered by many to be the master of American spy fiction, brilliantly staking his claim with such international bestsellers as The Tears of Autumn and The Miernik Dossier. A spy writer's spy writer, he has been lauded extravagantly by his peers. George V. Higgins wrote, "Charles McCarry is the Lord's best combination of spellbinding storyteller and silken prose writer." "Intelligent and enthralling," said Eric Ambler, and Jeffrey Archer praised writing that "makes one put the book down and gasp."
In his magnificent new novel, with rights sold in six countries before publication, McCarry returns to the world of his legendary character, Paul Christopher, the crack intelligence agent who is as skilled at choosing a fine wine as he is at tradecraft, at once elegant and dangerous, sophisticated and rough-and-ready. As the novel begins, Paul Christopher, aging but remarkably fit, is dining with his cousin Horace, also an ex-agent. Dinner is delicious and uneventful. A day later, Paul has vanished. The months pass; peculiarly, Paul's ashes are delivered by a Chinese official to the American consulate in Beijing, and a memorial service is held in Washington. But Horace is not convinced that Paul is dead and, enlisting the support of four other retired colleagues — a sort of all-star backfield of the old Outfit — Horace gets the "Old Boys" back in the game, to find Paul Christopher. They start with a photo found in Paul's study: a woman's hand holding a centuries' old scroll, once in the possession of the Nazis and now sought by the United States government and Muslim extremists alike. Harassed by American intelligence, hunted by terrorists, Horace Christopher and the Old Boys travel the globe, from Xinjiang to Brazil, from Rome to Tel Aviv, Budapest to Moscow, in search of Paul and the unspeakably dangerous truth.
"McCarry is another ace spy novelist from the past to whom Overlook's Peter Mayer is giving a new lease on life (as with Robert Littell's The Company two years ago). Both of them are real pros, with McCarry having a more lapidary style and a rather more aristocratic turn of mind. His 'old boys,' former CIA men who come out of retirement to help one of their former colleagues, Horace Hubbard, find his lost cousin, Paul Christopher, are a classy group, each with a well-defined area of expertise. Christopher, an elderly agent himself (he starred in some of McCarry's earlier books, most notably in The Tears of Autumn), has disappeared, and apparently died, in a remote area of China. His ashes are sent back to the U.S. by the Chinese, and a memorial service is held. But Horace cannot believe he is dead, and nor can Paul's daughter, Zarah. As they set out on Christopher's trail, they find it leads to his remarkable mother, Lori, who was probably involved in the assassination of Nazi kingpin Heydrich in WWII and kept as a legacy of that monster a priceless scroll in his possession depicting the death of Christ from a Roman agent's viewpoint. The plot is almost indescribable, involving a Muslim terrorist who wants the scroll and who plans to blow up much of the West with a cache of miniature Soviet nuclear bombs; a Chinese forced-labor camp; and sundry ex-Nazis, ex-KGB men and double-crossers galore. It's a great tribute to McCarry's skill that he manages to keep all his colored balls in the air and carry the reader willingly with him. But the kitchen-sink approach to the plot increasingly strains credibility as the story zips along, and the tension between his all-too-believable 'old boys' and the comic-book action is never satisfactorily resolved. Agent, Owen Laster at William Morris. (June) Forecast: Overlook is getting behind this novel in a big way, with a 75,000 first printing, a $50,000 Father's Day campaign and rights already sold in six countries. While there's a challenge in bringing McCarry back to his older fans and, perhaps more importantly, introducing him to new ones, the house's experience with Robert Littell has proven that can be done." Publishers Weekly (Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information, Inc.)
"There are numerous narrow escapes from goons, police, armies, and Arabs, and a lot of interesting side trips well off the beaten tourist-track. Excellent spy thriller in the Anglo-American style." Kirkus Reviews
"[A]n old-fashioned, rollicking adventure that beats Ludlum and Cussler at their own game....McCarry's commitment to this fanciful premise is absolute, and the resulting yarn combines the intrepid exploits of John Buchan, the cagey intrigue of Eric Ambler, and the clipped cadences of Dashiell Hammett. Tremendous fun." Booklist
"[A] cheerfully convoluted yarn whose tone is by turns mischievous and elegiac....McCarry is a careful plotter and an unfussy stylist; he nourishes his narrative with cosmopolitan reflections on the craft..." Charles Trueheart, Washington Post Book World
"Old Boys is high entertainment. To be sure, suspension of disbelief is required....Still, the leap of faith is not too extreme, and Mr. McCarry's witty writing and fast pace make it easily bridgeable. All fans of espionage should welcome this return of Charles McCarry." Dallas Morning News
"[A] tale that travels from the outlandish to the absurd...It is something of a Treasure Island for lovers of spook fiction, a near-juvenile adventure that entrances adults who know better with fabulous writing." Boston Globe
"[McCarry's] scrumptious writing carries triumphantly from one climax to another and the plot unfolds with vivid velocity to an explosive end." Los Angeles Times
"[E]xhilarating, engrossing...the work of a writer in complete control of his plot, which is topical and technical and mind-twisting, yet plausible, and his characters....Don't start reading this one if you want to have a life for the next couple of days." San Antonio Express-News
"Score one for Charles McCarry, who proves that at 70-something, he can still trounce younger writers with his spy-writing tradecraft." Detroit Free Press
"McCarry, a wizard writer, transforms the sturdy ingredients of the spy and suspense genres into a magical brew for our new age. A summer read that will be in demand..." Library Journal
When crack intelligence agent Paul Christopher mysteriously disappears, his ex-agent cousin enlists the support of four other retired colleagues to find him and prove he's not dead.
When crack intelligence agent Paul Christopher disappears, his ex-agent cousin enlists the support of four other retired colleagues to find him. Harassed by American intelligence and hunted by terrorists, they travel the globe in search of the unspeakably dangerous truth.
About the Author
Charles McCarry established an international reputation as a novelist with the publication of his worldwide bestseller, The Tears of Autumn. He is the author of nine other critically acclaimed novels. During the Cold War, he was an intelligence oficer operating under deep cover in Europe, Africa, and Asia.
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