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A Sunday Brunch Review: A Gentleman's Game

Greg Rucka's Queen and Country is a fine piece of graphic storytelling - a modern day espionage thriller that mixes departmental politics with realpolitik. Now Queen and Country has made the jump from monthly graphic serial to the novel in A Gentleman's Game. It's a brave move, as the dynamics of story telling change with the medium. However Rucka has a reputation as a thriller writer as well as a comic scripter, so he stands a a better chance of making it a successful move than most.

Tara Chase is Minder One, the head of the special operations section of SIS. In the Pit, a room in the basement of Vauxhall Cross, she and her two colleagues wait on the call of their nation. London's nightmare, a terror attack on the Tube, is the signal for action. A hasty response is planned, with Tara sent to Yemen to kill the spiritual leader of the group that planned the attack. The operation is a success - with one qualification, the death of the source of the group's funds: a Saudi prince. With international politics driving the agenda, Tara is going to be fed to the wolves. It's time for her to find what allies she can, and to see if she can save her life and her career. It's a road that will leave her battered and torn, and sacrificing more than she ever expected...

As well as Chase we see the world through the eyes of her direct superior Paul Crocker, a man who has to balance the needs of his country with the needs of his agents, and one of the terrorists Chase is tracking. It's these viewpoints that take what could have been a straight action thriller and turn it into something more.

Rucka gives us a rounded heroine, and a compelling story. It's a thriller that takes the classic British spy thriller of the 60s and 70s and updates it - showing us a complicated world where clean, clear decisions are impossible, and it's a matter of the least worst outcome, rather than the best. Rucka has taken all the elements that make Queen and Country a successful graphic novel, and given us a story that's accessible to anyone who hasn't read the comic, and that gives those of us who have another view of his characters.

Well worth reading.