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Sunday, May 5, 2013

The Golden Years, A Swinging Sixties Novella by AJ Hawkins

A J Hawkins has pulled me in yet again with his novella, The Golden Years.  His descriptions of the setting and interactions with every character in the story, no matter how minor, are strong and they pull me right into the action.  The story follows Charles Fairbanks, an elderly man living in London whose health is failing and is alone aside from his caregiver, Agnes.  He spends his time drinking tea during the day, scotch at night, and taking naps in between.  The only break in the monotony of his days comes from his daily visits from Agnes to clean his already spotless penthouse, make sure he is fed, and to try to engage him in some social interaction.  A breaking news flash from Los Angeles takes him back to his past as a successful spy and he has to know if his guess about who is behind the acts is true.  He sets off on what may be his last mission and tells the reader the story of his past through a dream he has en route.  I was quite smitten with the younger version of Charles and his mysterious and adventurous ways.  A J took me on another wonderful ride with this story and I can't wait to see where he chooses to take me next.

Platinum Book Reviews gives A J and The Golden Years:

5 platinum rings!!

Charles Fairbanks was once one of the world’s greatest spies, but that was a long time ago. Now he lives alone in a too-spacious penthouse apartment overlooking Hyde Park, with only his carer Agnes for all-too-occasional company.

Just as Charles begins to succumb to boredom and despair, a story crops up on the news that relates to his last ever field mission. He contacts MI6, but his concerns are thoroughly dismissed. Rightly or wrongly, he is determined to find the answer, even if it means certain death.

En route to California he falls asleep, reliving the vivid details of the mission that changed his life forever.

Written in the spirit of the James Bond novels, The Golden Years brings a thoroughly modern twist.

He slumped into his armchair, placed his retrieved cane against the crook of the chair's arm, interlocked his fingers, rested his hands on his chest and nestled his head into the generously cushioned headrest.  He let his mind go adrift, and was asleep within a minute.

He dreamt he was the young man he'd been so very long ago, driving down a dusty, dirt track, rocky walls on either side.

He was suddenly inside the enemy base with no memory of how he came to be there, and in another blink he was walking down a corrider formed by giant metal containers.

He saw Miyamoto before him, the sagging red banner adorned with four black Chinese symbols hanging overhead behind the madman.  Suddenly they were running, but Charles was getting nowhere.  In his mind, Miyamoto's maniacal cackling was coming from every direction, heralding the inevitable.

The explosion engulfed him, and Charles snapped awake with a start, glancing around, expecting to see a concrete floor covered in soot and debris, but all he saw was that much-maligned cream carpet much closer then he'd have liked, his own shadow stretching before him.  He'd fallen out of his chair.  He hoped to prove Agnes wrong; he was determined that he couldn't be so enfeebled that he couldn't get himself up again.


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