Saturday, September 04, 2021

The Old Man - Thomas Perry


I
t’s hard to explain why an author sometimes drops off your radar for decades before you come back to them. And that happens to me sometimes even with a writer as good as Thomas Perry, someone whose novels I enjoyed reading and was impressed by before not picking up another one for about thirty years. Thankfully, Perry’s 2017 novel The Old Man finally caught my eye long enough for those good memories to kick back in long enough for me to pick up the book for a closer look.


I was hooked from the first paragraph:


“An old man should have a dog.” Dan Chase’s daughter had told him that ten years ago, after his wife died. The part that surprised him was the term “old man.” He had just turned fifty then. But he supposed she was only giving him advance notice, time to get used to the idea and find a suitable dog. After a man’s wife died, he had to do something not to die too.


Dan Chase sounds like a family man at loose ends, one whose daughter is worried about his emotional health, and based on this paragraph you might think that you’ve picked up a tearjerker, one of those books that punch all the right buttons for older readers looking for stories about people like themselves. Well, you would be wrong; this is a Thomas Perry novel, after all, and all kinds of hell are about to break loose.


Dan Chase has a past. Thirty-five years ago, as a young army intelligence offer, Dan was sent to Libya to deliver several million dollars to an intermediary tasked with getting those funds to a rebel army badly in need of U.S. assistance. But as it turned out, that man was not interesting in giving up one dime of the money to help anyone but himself, so Dan risked his life by going back into Libya to reclaim the money and return it to the government. Unfortunately for Dan, his superiors did not want anyone to learn just how badly the mission had gone, so they decided to cover their own bad judgement by branding Dan a thief and a traitor to his country. They wanted him dead.


By now Dan Chase (one of the old man’s many aliases) has been hiding and/or on the run for close to four decades. He lives in Vermont with not one, but two, big dogs where he appears to be nothing more than a typical retiree enjoying his daughter and grandsons. As far as that goes, that’s who he is. But Dan Chase has never let his guard down, so when two Libyan assassins show up at his house one night, they don’t stand much of a chance against him and his dogs.


But the chase is on again, and Dan knows that it’s not just the Libyans after him. His own government, to one degree or another, is still smack dab in the middle of it all.


Bottom Line: The Old Man is a first rate thriller that moves the reader from point A to point Z in thrilling fashion as the people chasing our hero get closer and closer to catching him. But it is much more than that. Perry takes the time to develop several memorable characters along the way while detailing the evolving relationships these characters have with Chase. The Old Man is as close to a character-driven thriller as can be written without slowing down the basic premise of the story. I’m excited now to go back and read all those Thomas Perry books I’ve missed over the years…money in the bank.


Thomas Perry


17 comments:

  1. I've really enjoyed his Jane Whitefield series.

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    1. I haven't tried those yet, but I took a look at them a couple of days ago and found them tempting...so thanks for the input.

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  2. Now this isn't usually the kind of book I'd normally pick up. But my husband definitely 'would' so I'll look into sticking it on my Kindle to share with him, and maybe trying it myself as of course I now want to know what happens!

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    1. It's one of those espionage thrillers that men are probably more likely to enjoy, Cath, but the characters are really excellently drawn, too, so you might end up enjoying it more than you would think.

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  3. This one sounded very familiar and low and behold it's the only Perry I've read (listened to) as we took a far road trip to Vermont a few years ago. Here's a link to my brief review:https://bibliophilebythesea.blogspot.com/2017/09/week-in-review-books-and-movies_16.html

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    1. Thanks for the link. You kind of touched on the one criticism that I sort of had...not so much that the ending was too neatly tied together, though. More for me that it was wrapped up kind of suddenly in very few pages when compared to how long the action and build-up went on.

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    2. Hey Sam, What was the title of that NF book you read/recommended about an "undertaker's ?"

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    3. Diane: The Undertaker's Daughter by Kate Mayfield

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  4. I enjoyed Thomas Perry's The Burglar a few years ago. Thanks for the reminder that I should check out more of Perry's books.

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    1. I'm starting to wonder if readers like so many of us who are deeply in to series of novels tend to blow off the standalone authors a little too early or easily.

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  5. I think this one sounds like a lot of fun. That opening paragraph alone makes me want to read it! Thanks for adding yet another book to my TBR list. :D

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    1. I think you'll like this one. It's a real page-turner and had great characters, too.

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  6. Thanks for reminding me of this author. The last book of his that I read (and enjoyed tremendously) was Metzger's Dog several years ago and I had intended to read more of his work but somehow he has slipped through the cracks of my memory. Maybe now I'll finally get back to him.

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    1. He's definitely worth another look, Dorothy. As I mentioned up above, I wonder if my concentration on series causes me to lose track too easily of the standalone writers.

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  7. I have read three Thomas Perry books. I am the same as Dorothy, the last one I read was Metzger's Dog. I loved it but haven't read one since. I did read the first Jane Whitefield book and want to continue that series. Also The Butcher's Boy.

    This one sounds perfect for me. Espionage. I have a few more of his books unread, but I will seek this one out.

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    1. I'll look forward to hearing what you think about it. It's one of his latest ones, and it definitely got him back on my radar - for good, I hope.

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