Review by Karl Verhoven
The Heir introduced Largo Winch, previously a world traveller armed with a bunch of skills he employed to avoid or remove himself from trouble. These survival instincts and methods of assessing people served him in good stead when he was named as the heir to an international conglomerate, a position coveted by many within the organisation.
These people didn’t achieve their positions via concern for the welfare of others or suppressing their ambitions, and so continue to connive for power and influence. Winch has learned he can place his faith in one of their number, but otherwise prefers to trust those he knew before he came into his inheritance. Among them are rogue of all trades Simon Ovronnaz and small plane pilot Freddy Kaplan.
Van Hamme’s scripts reflect a slightly outmoded archetype, that of the supremely attractive and powerful wish-fantasy male into whose arms and beds women swoon. With several nods to the novels of Ian Fleming, Van Hamme makes no secrets of his love for James Bond, whose attitudes are similar. Van Hamme has also absorbed the plotting template, so the strictly surface characterisation applies just enough gloss to propel matters without the plot suffering unduly.
As in the first book, for the complex financial machinations to spring the plot a fair amount of exposition is required, and this slows matters down, even when the business mastermind is a compelling rogue also straight from the James Bond handbook. There, though, he’d not have had a pony tail, no matter how exquisitely adorned with black ribbon, and a line like “there ain’t a broad in all of New York who isn’t dying to get into bed with me” lacks that Bond refinement. The compensation for the info dumps are the finely choreographed action sequences, with the final eight pages providing an exceptional thrill ride.
Artist Philippe Francq’s detail is again to be admired. His settings are so magnificently conceived that, boardroom apart, his illustrative sleight of hand distracts from the word heavy nature of what occurs in them.
This is another fast-paced thriller, and the next volume combines the succeeding two French albums Dutch Connection and H.