A thief and a spy walk into a comedy ...: Local author returns with new novel


Ottawa author and journalist Adam Thomlison has “finally” (his words) released a new book – a thriller that targets the elusive trio of head, heart and funnybone. 

“A Thief, a Spy, and the Corpse Who Rode Shotgun,” which he is soft-launching at the upcoming Ottawa Book Expo on Oct. 20, is half crime novel, half spy novel (literally half and half – it consists of two distinct stories that intertwine for an action-packed finish). And it lampoons both genres even as it delivers on them. 

The crime and the act of espionage are both pretty human-scale, and Thomlison says that was a conscious choice. “I wanted to make the situations seem relatable, and to make the laughs not feel inappropriate.”

But that’s not to say that the scenes are mundane – there are gunshot wounds, clandestine meetings in Denmark and the far north (but also at a Vancouver Starbucks), and at least one explosion. 

This book comes nearly a decade after Thomlison’s last – the well-reviewed “These Are Not Movies,” a short-fiction collection that he edited and contributed to. He's unapologetic about the delay and jokes that this book is "long-awaited, by me." 

Thomlison has in fact been a presence in Ottawa’s literary community for years now, since releasing his first book, “We Were Writers for Disastrous Love Affairs Magazine” in 2005. He also does a fiction-zine series now in its 13th year, and publishes microfiction on Twitter. Indeed, sharp-eyed readers will notice that Thomlison has already introduced the main characters from “A Thief, a Spy, and the Corpse Who Rode Shotgun” in short stories in those other forums.

“I’ve been living with these guys for a while now, and part of developing them has involved picturing them, and writing them, in other situations. Those transformed into something like deleted scenes from the book, which I’ve tried to publish where I can. Actually, one story I published in an online literary journal [this one] is the epilogue for one of the characters – technically, it’s the last scene of the novel.” 

He doesn't mind you reading ahead, though, and promises that the scene doesn’t spoil anything from the novel, which you can pick up at the Ottawa Book Expo this October.