Authors laboring in the thriller genre have produced an
embarrassment of riches lately, with worthwhile books being
published on what seems to be a daily basis. PRIVATE WARS by Greg
Rucka is this week's entry. Rucka has established his considerable
bona fides in a number of media recently, primarily in the comic or
sequential art fields. He currently is authoring acclaimed story
arcs in WONDER WOMAN and THE ADVENTURES OF SUPERMAN, as well as a
limited series entitled THE OMAC PROJECT. Rucka also has his own
ongoing graphic novel series QUEEN AND COUNTRY, where the
characters in PRIVATE WARS and 2004's A GENTLEMAN'S GAME come from.
While QUEEN AND COUNTRY is a favorite around Casa de Hartlaub, it
is in the thrillers where Rucka's talent truly shines.
PRIVATE WARS picks up almost immediately where A GENTLEMAN'S GAME
left off. Tara Chace, Minder One of Her Majesty's Secret
Intelligence Service, is still reeling from the events that took
place at the close of A GENTLEMAN'S GAME. Chace abruptly quits the
Service after being denied a leave of absence from her post, an
occurrence that almost immediately leaves her agency in the lurch
when a power struggle in Uzbekistan results in a strategic crisis
involving Britain and the United States. Chace is persuaded to
return to service in order to extricate the pro-Western heir to
power before he is assassinated.
As anyone familiar with A GENTLEMAN'S GAME might expect, there are
any number of red herrings, wild cards and duplicitous settings
where friend and foe change sides and identities --- if they can be
identified at all. Chace has more than her own self-preservation
guiding her motives, and to complicate matters her mission
constantly…changes. Rucka's ability to keep things racing
along while explaining and exploring the subtleties of this complex
plot is almost unbelievable. Additionally, about midway through the
novel, there is an occurrence that is as suspenseful and exciting
as anything I have read or watched this year. Seriously. I can't
give any work a higher recommendation than that.
Rucka is at the top of his game, and PRIVATE WARS is the pinnacle
of his work to date. This is a thriller not to be missed.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 23, 2011