§ion=&combo2=&text1=&text2=&SocNetUsername=&SocNetPassword=&authCode=& 7th Decade Thoughts: Old Boys by Charles McCarry

7th Decade Thoughts

Thoughts about books, politics and history (personal and otherwise), pictures I've taken and pictures I've edited.

Wednesday, March 08, 2006

Old Boys by Charles McCarry

McCarry was always one of my favorites in the age of the Cold War thriller (in books like The Last Supper and The Tears of Autumn). This one is maybe not as good as Le Carre’s one about “old spies” (Absolute Friends) but it’s good and I enjoyed it a lot. Basically it’s the story of 5 old spies, superannuated from the CIA, who join forces to find another one of them who’s disappeared and been reported dead in Western China. They don’t believe it and set out to find him. They’re all 60ish or more—one has to reach for his nitro pills when eluding militant Russians who want to kill him as he comes down the stairs from the apartment of an informer—he later takes a brief respite in the US to get a pacemaker installed before proceeding toKyrgystan and the novel's denouement in the desert.

They’re searching for Paul Christopher (spy-hero of earlier novels, like the rest out to pasture at 70). He’s off because someone brought word that his mother who was kidnapped by the Nazi commander, Heydrich, in WWII when Paul was a teenager, and then never seen again, has surfaced and is in danger. She’s 94. Paul left his friend and cousin, Horace Hubbard, the leader of the old boys, a cryptic letter and a clue to find a hidden safe in his house. There Horace finds a painting (one he’s always hated but worth a million on more) he’s to sell to finance the romp. Eventually Christopher’s daughter Zarah joins the tribe. The enemies are the Chinese secret service (Christopher spend 10 years in a Chinese prison camp in his earlier life), Russian mafia (i.e., ex, KGB), an old Arab millionaire named Ibn Awad who’s stolen some dirty bombs from the Russians which he plans to unleash on American cities. Then there’s Kevin (with his Ohio accent) whose loyalties no one is ever very sure of, though he's mostly likely an American gray (unacknowledged) force or some variation of Russian freelancer.

There’s a subplot that maybe imitates (or covers similar ground as) The Da Vinci Code: the Amphora Scroll, a Roman document hidden in a jar that “proves” that Jesus of Nazareth was an unwitting agent of Roman Intelligence. Lori Christopher (the 94-year old mother) stole it from Heydrich and hid out in the remote reaches of the Taklimakan desert most of her life to keep it away from anyone likely to exploit it. Ibn Awad, he with the dirty bombs, now wants it to discredit Christianity.

The best parts feature the doings of the old boys themselves. Both the Amphora Scroll and the long-lost Lori Christopher plots peter out by the end and the reader doesn’t much care. Posted by Picasa


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