Wednesday, January 4, 2017

"The Old Man"

Thomas Perry's novels include the Jane Whitefield series (Vanishing Act, Dance for the Dead, Shadow Woman, The Face Changers, Blood Money, Runner, Poison Flower, and A String of Beads), Death Benefits, Pursuit, the first recipient of the Gumshoe Award for best novel, and The Butcher's Boy, which won the prestigious Edgar Award.

Perry applied the Page 69 Test to his new novel, The Old Man, and reported the following:
I have begun to think that the page 69 test can't fail. I've always found the page to be a fair sample of the book. In the early parts of The Old Man we meet the sixty year-old-man in question. He calls himself Dan Chase, and he lives in the peaceful community of Norwich, Vermont with his two big dogs. He's a former army intelligence officer who, 35 years ago, went on a failed mission to support a group of Libyan rebels. He delivered twenty million dollars to a middleman, who began spending it all on himself. Chase stole it back, made it all the way to the U.S. to turn it in, and was about to be arrested for stealing it and leaving the rebels defenseless. Instead he chose to disappear. 35 years later, men are trying to kill Chase. At the point of page 68 he still isn't sure who or why. He's in Chicago walking his dogs at night when a young man pretending to be jogging tries to pull out a gun just as he reaches Chase. The dogs react and so does Chase, who ends up with the gun. On page 69 he interrogates the young man, whose license says he's 18. He decides to let the young man go, but keeps the gun. As the young man starts to leave, Chase stops him and gives him the hundred dollars in cash from his own wallet. He says robbing people is a stupid way to get money.

This passage, although he and the reader don't know it, is the introduction of Chase's counterpart in today's military intelligence--a young operative on a dangerous, questionable mission. He was supposed to kill Chase that night, but that will now have to wait until a later time. But it is as though each of the two men is meeting himself at a different age. In time that similarity will have large implications for the rest of the book. I hope that readers who make it to page 69 will follow the story to the end.
Learn more about the book and author at Thomas Perry's website and Facebook page.

Writers Read: Thomas Perry.

--Marshal Zeringue