Old Boys

Old Boys

3.7 4
by Charles McCarry
     
 

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In his magnificent new novel, Charles 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, now an aging but remarkably fit 70ish, is dining at

Overview

In his magnificent new novel, Charles 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, now an aging but remarkably fit 70ish, is dining at home with his cousin Horace, also an ex-agent. Dinner is delicious and uneventful. A day later, Paul has vanished. The months pass, 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 six 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 U.S. 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.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
"McCarry is the best modern writer on the subject of intrigue." —P. J. O’Rourke, The Weekly Standard

"Old Boys is like the best parts of 10 John le Carré novels all put together." —Time

"McCarry is a spy novelist of uncommon gifts . . . by turns mischievous and elegiac." —The Washington Post

"McCarry’s novels are the best of our time." —The Wall Street Journal

Charles Trueheart
In Old Boys, his 10th novel, McCarry has cut loose yet again, this time in a cheerfully convoluted yarn whose tone is by turns mischievous and elegiac.
The Washington Post
Publishers Weekly
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. Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Library Journal
Undoubtedly, fans of high-caliber spy fiction will welcome the return of McCarry's intelligence agent Paul Christopher (The Tears of Autumn; Second Sight), thought to have died in a remote corner of China. Upon receiving Christopher's ashes, his cousin, Horace, a onetime spy himself, nevertheless doubts their authenticity. He recruits a team of old boys from "the Outfit" (think CIA) to track down any evidence that their friend is alive and can be saved. Their investigations take them not just hither and yon over the globe but also deep into the minds of terrorists and religious extremists of the sort that American readers will recognize today. Truly unusual aspects of this rambunctious excursion into the exotic include a son's lasting love for his kidnapped mother, lost back in the Nazi heyday and her profound attachment to a mysterious scroll connected to Judas of the New Testament. 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 at many public libraries. Barbara Conaty, Falls Church, VA Copyright 2004 Reed Business Information.
Kirkus Reviews
A collection of retired intelligence agents comes to the aid of the very dashing Christopher family of spies last seen in McCarry's 1991 Second Sight. Paul Christopher is dead. Possibly. A packet of ashes has arrived from western China, where the retired spook had spent ten years as a prisoner. Why on earth would he go back to such an awful scene? And why isn't the provenance of the cremains any better than it is? These and other questions plague Paul's cousin Horace Hubbard, who was also in the family spying business until caught stealing a national election. Horace rather thinks that Paul has taken the opportunity to drop out of the scenery, and, indeed, following Paul's state funeral, clues lead Horace to a hollowed-out table leg in his cousin's house wherein are cached clues suggesting that Paul has headed for central Asia on a hunt for his nonagenarian mum and a glass vial containing a Roman intelligence officer's eyewitness report of events in the life of Jesus of Nazareth. Christopher's mother, a German national who lived enough lives for five ordinary mortals, salvaged the document from Nazi Germany and has been carrying it about ever since. Horace rounds up a group of elderly colleagues and begins a search for Paul that takes him to China, Bulgaria, Turkey, South America, and numerous "-stans." He must be rather careful, since there is a fatwa out on him. Ibn Awad, an Islamic maniac Horace had supposedly killed in the line of business, is not only alive, but very much in the hunt for that interesting bit of biblical history and very unhappy about that murder attempt. After he eliminates Horace, Ibn Awad plans to blow up numerous satanic cities with the old Soviet A-bombs he'sbeen hoarding, so the Old Boys have to keep an eye out for radiation. 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. First printing of 75,000; $50,000 ad/promo; author tour

Product Details

ISBN-13:
9780143035497
Publisher:
Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date:
04/26/2005
Series:
Paul Christopher Series, #6
Edition description:
Reprint
Pages:
480
Sales rank:
832,480
Product dimensions:
5.10(w) x 8.40(h) x 0.90(d)
Age Range:
18 - 17 Years

What People are saying about this

From the Publisher
"McCarry is the best modern writer on the subject of intrigue." —P. J. O’Rourke, The Weekly Standard

"Old Boys is like the best parts of 10 John le Carré novels all put together." —Time

"McCarry is a spy novelist of uncommon gifts . . . by turns mischievous and elegiac." —The Washington Post

"McCarry’s novels are the best of our time." —The Wall Street Journal

Meet the Author

Charles McCarry served under deep cover as a CIA operations officer in Europe, Asia, and Africa. He is the author of nine critically acclaimed novels, as well as numerous works of non-fiction incuding Citizen Nader. He currently splits his time between Florida and the Berkshires.

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Old Boys 3.8 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 4 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Charles McCarry with 'Old Boys' is to spy thrillers as Logan Robert Bingham with 'Hunter Rising' is to SF.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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