Spoilers in review

“When will you stop harassing me, Orion?”

“When you stop being in places where I have need of you, my dear.”

In the snow-covered city of Stockholm, Suzan is in her capacity as aide to adoptive father James Fitzroy. Fitzroy is acting-ambassador to Sweden and representing the USA at the presentation of the Nobel Awards. Wandering the streets Suzan has a chance encounter with Nicolas Rubiev, a handsome Russian journalist there to cover the ceremony. Romance blossoms, but it isn’t long before Orion and Anton arrive to break love’s spell, a possible terrorist plot to disrupt the Nobel Awards dragging Lady S back into a world of intrigue she wants no part of.

As was the case in the opening Here’s to Suzie, it’s the machinations of European politics plus the real world elements of love, regret, and betrayal that make Lady S work. All the stock in trades of a captivating espionage thriller are here, Van Hamme never forgetting that it’s the human element that can disrupt plans and complicate situations. Latitude 59 Degrees North has a story typical of its time, paranoia about the Russian Mob and Pakistan’s alleged involvement in criminal and extremist activities a regular feature in news. Suzan’s first experience of falling in love is similarly clichéd. “I’d rather stay here in the scent and the warmth of your pleasure” is a nifty turn of phrase, except it would likely work better in French and comes over sounding corny in English. Again, what works is that you feel Suzan’s pain and frustration, the human emotions blending into the character narratives to make them believable.

The wintry environs of Stockholm and the Swedish countryside as depicted by Philippe Aymond are breathtakingly beautiful, full of intricate detail. Landscapes are stark, the scenic city streets icy. Faces and subtle body language relays the passion or tension of the players involved. Gun battles and chase scenes are not extended Hollywood affairs, sound effects just sharp enough to convince but not too big to overpower the frame. It just goes to show that big isn’t always better. The clichés do jar, but it is still highly entertaining and very enjoyable.

The following Game of Fools exchanges the freezing scenarios of Scandinavia for the sun-drenched Cote D’Azur, the intrigue as captivating as the warmer climate.