Review by Jamie McNeil
The French title of this European based political espionage is Jeu de dupes and the dupes of this story are the CIA, their director’s nose currently out of joint because he doesn’t know enough about CATRIG (Centre for Anti-Terrorism Research and Information Gathering) and they won’t share their toys with him. Learning that Suzan has some sort of connection to them, the CIA decide to spook CATRIG by spoiling the well-deserved holiday she and father James are taking in their French villa. James is ‘kidnapped’ by a terror cell, the hunch being that Suzan will run straight to Orion for help, but of course Suzan knows less about CATRIG than the CIA does. With her clandestine past as burglar ‘La Souris’ (the Mouse) catching up with her, the French police and the CIA both hounding her, Lady S goes to ground in a remote resort known as Mountain Flowers to wait for word from someone known only as Betelgeuse, hopefully finding some answers of her own.
This is a good caper with some fun twists to it, Van Hamme using the comedy elements that come with bungling CIA archivist Ralph Ellington and covert grannies with big guns (not the rude versions) to poke fun at America’s saviour complex. Depending on your nationality, this might offend or delight you. Van Hamme is prone to stereotyping, the CIA director obnoxious as he chomps on a fat cigar and his agents make insensitive jokes, but no less than the stereotypical wine-guzzling Frenchmen with blue clouds of cigarette smoke drifting around them.
Suzan bounding through tense situations in only her underwear is becoming a bit of a theme for artist Phillipe Aymond, but at least the weather is better suited for that on the Cote D’Azur. As always his landscapes are stunning, his homeland painted with striking colours and detail. The highlight is the pensionable age folks who assist Susan in eluding the CIA or French police, very amusing and their demeanours cool and collected.
The lighter elements don’t detract from the suspense, so this still a good thriller. It gives Van Hamme the opportunity to develop his characters a little more and, after the more serious tones of Here’s to Suzie! and Latitude 59 Degrees North, a chance to relax and have fun. Van Hamme excels at the serious thriller, yet he is obviously versatile as a comedic writer too.
Suzan and James Fitzroy return to the States for a story that will define the future of Lady S in A Mole in D.C.