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Book Talk: Thomas Perry, ‘The Old Man’

Twenty years ago, Army Intelligence sent Michael Kohler to Libya with $20 million for Faris Hamzah. Hamzah was then to deliver the money to rebels who were fighting Muammar al-Qaddafi’s troops. The rebels were running out of food, other basic necessities, and weapons, and they desperately needed the influx of cash. But after a while, Kohler spots Hamzah in a new Rolls Royce, accompanied by a dozen bodyguards piled into three black SUVs. Hamzah also has a crew working on a new house and has other luxury items, as well.

Naturally, the rebels’ efforts fail, and the mission is a disaster. When Kohler, a decorated war hero, is debriefed in the United States, the top brass of Army Intelligence leave him sitting in the interview room and simply disappear. Kohler walks off the base, changes his name to Dan Chase, and moves to Vermont. Of course, he’s stolen the money back from Hamzah and offered to return it to Army Intelligence. However, the rude departure of the top brass leaves him holding the money and the blame for the mission’s failure. He’s labeled a thief, and twenty years later he’s the subject of a sophisticated manhunt.

When Chase (Kohler) went off grid, he invested the $20 million and has lived comfortably on the interest, always ready and willing to return the original cash. But now he’s a wanted criminal. Understanding his situation, he’s set up several new identities for himself and his wife and always has “bug-out” bags ready in case they needed to leave in a hurry. Although his wife died, he kept her kit and false papers.


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