Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags

Posted by on Jun 29, 2017 in 2017, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Queen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg RuckaQueen & Country Vol. 7: Operation Saddlebags by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Norton and Steve Rolston

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #7 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2005
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 7 is a compilation of issues 25-28 of the comic series.
From the publisher:

Still recovering from the death of her co-worker and lover, Tara Chace is granted a brief reprieve from London’s rain and MI6’s bureaucracy. This emotionally charged vacation take Chace to the slopes of Switzerland for a visit with old friends and family. But being an agent for Her Majesty’s Secret Intelligence Service leaves very little time for rest and Chace is quickly thrown into another mission of national importance. A junior minister with close ties to the Prime Minister appears to be selling state secrets to the Russians, and the Minders are assigned to quietly investigate. Tara is forced to walk a tight rope between the violent dangers inherent in the field of espionage and the discretion inherent in the bureaucracy of the government, all the while assuming the new position of Minder One and field-testing a new agent.

My Thoughts:
Another excellent volume in this well done spy thriller series.

Tara Chase is a spy for the British Government. She’s got issues and in the first issue she faces one of the major ones. Her mother. Tara’s time off is anyting but restful as she visits and clashes with her mother.

Once back at work, Tara is now the leader of her team. They have mission to find out what if anything a junior diplomat might be shopping to the Russians. Tara’s got a rookie agent with her on this one and things do not go well and not just because of the newbie. Real spies aren’t like James Bond. Sometimes they make mistakes.

This is tense and exciting spy thriller fiction. I like the recurring characters but there is always something and someone new with each story arc.

As is typical for this series there is a new artist for most of this story arc. While Steve Rolston returned for the first issue which has Tara’s trip to Switzerland. For the final three issues and the majority of the volume Mike Norton is the artist. I liked his work a lot. It’s all pretty stark black and white and the action in portrayed well.
You can see an excerpt here on Greg Rucka’s website

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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A Gentleman’s Game by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Oct 14, 2016 in 2016, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

A Gentleman's Game by Greg Rucka
A Gentleman’s Game: A Queen & Country Novel by Greg Rucka

Genre: Spy Fiction
Format: Hardcover
Publisher: Bantam
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 335
Source: Library

The Book:
From the publisher:

When an unthinkable act of terror devastates London, nothing will stop Tara Chace from hunting down those responsible. Her job is simple: stop the terrorists before they strike a second time. To succeed, she’ll do anything and everything it takes. She’ll have to kill again.

Only this time the personal stakes will be higher than ever before. For the terrorist counterstrike will require that Tara allow herself to be used as bait by the government she serves. This time she’s turning her very life into a weapon that can be used only once. But as she and her former mentor race toward destiny at a remote terrorist training camp in Saudi Arabia, Tara begins to question just who’s pulling the trigger—and who’s the real enemy. In this new kind of war, betrayal can take any form…including one’s duty to queen and country.

My Thoughts:
I have been thoroughly enjoying Rucka’s comic series Queen & Country. I have often said that fans of Homeland or 24 are predisposed to enjoy the series. For those of you who don’t enjoy comics, Greg Rucka has published three novels featuring the characters from the Queen & Country comics.

From the hall, it looked as nondescript as any other in the building. Inside the outer office, it had desks for not one but three personal assistants. But once one went through and into the inner office, everything changed, as if all pretension to modernity had been rejected in favor of those good old days when spying was deemed a Gentleman’s Game.

This is the first of those novels and it’s pretty good spy fiction. The thing that makes this a little different than the average spy story is that the main character is a woman. She’s a mess. She’s got enough issues to be a full year’s subscription but you still end up rooting for her.

This one is part action adventure and part an exploration of the ugly side of the espionage business. Rucka intersperses the politics behind the missions with the actual action. The story is one that’s still rather contemporary even though the book was written twelve years ago.

This is a book that easily works as a standalone if you aren’t interested in the comic series. I like that Rucka has used both formats in the series and I’m looking forward to continuing the story with the next collected edition of the comics.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Nutshell Review – Queen & Country Vol. 6: Operation Dandelion by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Oct 16, 2015 in 2015, 3.5 stars, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 6: Operation Dandelion by Greg Rucka with art by Mike Hawthorne

Queen & Country Vol. 6: Operation Dandelion by Greg Rucka

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #6 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 128
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 5 is a compilation of issues 21-24 of the comic series.

From the publisher:

Every job has its office politics, but when you’re a spy in service to your queen and your country, the politics in play take on a much larger scale. When the chief of SIS is forced into retirement, Paul Crocker is forced to play a new game in order to keep his good standing and his job. But are agents Chace and Wallace prepared to be Crocker’s pawns in this new match? And how will it be for Poole, the new Minder who has to step over two dead bodies in order to take his post?

My Thoughts:
This one has lots of political intrigue and most of it is internal to the British Intelligence community. A new boss with plans to limit the functions of the unit has Tara’s boss Crocker on edge. Change within the team itself is in the air too with a new recruit as well as a potential retirement.

I enjoyed the interesting gamesmanship from all sides. These are clearly tough times for all of the main characters of the series.

As is typical for this series there is a new artist for this story arc. I like his style and it fits with some of the better previous volumes. According to the introduction his attention to detail is admirable. He had people send him photos so that his backgrounds of the parts of the story set in Bath would be accurate.

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Nutshell Review – Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Jul 28, 2015 in 2015, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka with art by Carla Speed McNeil

Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 5: Operation Stormfront by Greg Rucka

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #5 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2004
Pages: 144
Source: Library

The Book:
This volume 5 is a compilation of issues 16-20 of the comic series.

From the publisher:

When an agent dies in the field, it’s their fellow spies that are always hit the hardest. When the agent that doesn’t make it home is an ex-lover, “hard” doesn’t begin to describe it. As Tara Chace and the rest of the department reel over the demise of one of their own, a ghost from Director Paul Crocker’s past has him sending his Minders into danger yet again. But will this operation free Crocker from his ghosts or merely create new ones?

My Thoughts:
I really thought this story arc was well done. When one of the agents under Paul Crocker dies, the entire unit is affected. At the same time events in the country of Georgia have the intelligence communities in Europe on edge. In particular, Paul Crocker is affected because there is a connection to a case he handled in his early days as an agent.

The life of a spy is never an easy one but it’s worse when fellow agents die.

Tara Chace is put in a difficult situation by her boss and things do not go well.

As usual with this series, each new story arc is illustrated by a different artist. While not my least favorite so far, I was not enthusiastic about Carla Speed McNeil’s in this one. I’m fine with characters looking different than in previous volumes because of a different artist. My issue with this volume was that the three of the main male characters (and a few of the secondary characters) looked far too much alike. I often had to use cues from the dialog to figure out which of them was in the particular panel I was reading.

This was one of the better volumes in this series in terms of story but one of the weaker in terms of artwork.

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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Nutshell Review – Stumptown Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka

Posted by on Jul 24, 2015 in 2015, 4 stars, Book Review, Graphic Novel, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Stumptown Vol. 3: The Case of the King of Clubs by Greg Rucka with art by Justin Greenwood

Stumptown Vol. 3 by Greg Rucka

Genre: Crime Fiction, Comics
Format: eBook
Series: #3 in the Stumptown series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2015
Pages: 147
Source: Purchased


The Book:

From the publisher:

Greg Rucka’s fan-favorite P.I. is back on the case in this new hardcover! When one of investigator Dex Parios’s dearest friends is brutalized following a Portland Timbers match, Dex is determined to get to the bottom of the attack no matter who stands in her way! Join Eisner Award-winner Rucka and new series artist Justin Greenwood (Image Comics’ THE FUSE) as Dex kicks more than just soccer balls in her pursuit of the assailant.

My Thoughts:
I really enjoy this series featuring Portland P.I. Dex Parios. She’s the classic tough yet vulnerable heroine. Greg Rucka is very open about the TV show Rockford Files being a major influence on his work in this series. I enjoy that feel to the series and I love that it’s set in Portland.

I was a little concerned when I heard about the artist change with this volume and that Justin Greenwood doesn’t live in Portland. He’s done a magnificent job however, of maintaining the feel of the city and recreating familiar landmarks and neighborhoods of Portland in his art. There is naturally a bit of change in how characters are drawn but he’s stayed true to the Dex (and other characters) that I’ve become familiar with in the earlier volumes.

This story arc is wrapped around the soccer crazed world of the Portland Timbers and their fans. It’s got some good pieces about the Portland vs. Seattle rivalry. It was fun so see something I’m so familiar with become part of a story like this.

I liked the way that Rucka surprised me with some hints and insights into Dex’s history and I’m hoping that we’ll be seeing a volume four in the near future.

4 stars Rating 4/5

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Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 4. Operation Blackwall by Greg Rucka

Posted by on May 22, 2015 in 2015, 3.5 stars, Book Review, Comics, Greg Rucka | 0 comments

Nutshell Review: Queen & Country Vol. 4: Operation Blackwall by Greg Rucka with art by J. Alexander
Queen & Country Vol. 4: Operation Blackwall

Genre: Spy Thriller, Comics
Format: Collected Trade Paperback
Series: #4 in the Queen & Country series
Publisher: Oni Press
Publication Date: 2003
Pages: 88
Source: Library


The Book:

This volume 4 is a compilation of issues 13-15 of the comic series.

From the back cover:

British agent Tara Chace is accustomed to working in the shadows cast by world governments. She’s spied, stolen, and killed–all in service to her Queen and her country. When a French conglomerate blackmails one of the Her Majesty’s most affluent subjects in a bid to secure an important and lucrative contract, Tara’s duty takes a new turn as she embarks on espionage of the corporate variety. But when affairs of the heart get muddled in affairs of state, can Tara keep her emotions out of the mission? It’s sex, lies, and big business in this collection of the Eisner Award-winning series Queen & Country.

My Thoughts:
This time around Tara Chace and her team shift from political espionage to corporate espionage. When a leading industrialist reports that he’s being blackmailed the SIS special section is called in to find out just who is behind it and why. Not only is the corporate world out of her normal realm of operations Tara has a personal connection to this case. He college friend is the man’s daughter.

This is a rather short story arc at only three issues but given that it’s a bit of a different type of plot than the others it makes sense, The first few pages are all in French but it’s not difficult to figure out what’s going on without translation.

This series has used a variety of different artists over it’s issues. This story arc is done by J. Alexander. He keeps to the dark and sometimes roughly drawn style that most of the previous volumes have employed. He does a good job of getting the scenes dark and moody when needed and lightening them up when the scene shifts to less questionable environments.

As I’ve said before, if you’re a fan of Homeland and/or The Americans you should check out this series.

3.5 stars Rating 3.5/5

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