Review by Karl Verhoven
In The Price of Money Largo Winch personally visited Montana after he was vilified in the press when a W Group subsidiary company devastated a small community by closing down the sports goods factory. He discovered the accounts submitted to headquarters differed from the actual figures, but before he could locate the proof he was framed for murder, and only just escaped.
Jean Van Hamme’s plotting has always been first rate, but perhaps due to the greater variety of options he’s provided himself, he takes the plot, and Winch, into some surprising areas. The series still can’t escape the lengthy exposition required to clarify matters, though: “…causing the price of Speed One shares to drop to the record low of $25, which, in turn, made you spend another $15 million to buy 600,000 of said shares in order to hand them out as stock options!” And so on. A few pages of this nature every volume are the price for Van Hamme’s complex plots, although this one requires an editorial explanation of stock options for clarification.
Artist Philippe Francq takes this in his stride, varying the viewpoints, and ensuring the characters aren’t crushed beneath the hefty word balloons. It’s a necessary discipline, as the spectacular action sequences that characterise Largo Winch are largely compressed into the opening pages. This may indicate a lesser level of tension and suspense, but that’s delivered in a different manner here.
This is the best Largo Winch book for several volumes as Van Hamme has freshened his approach considerably. There are a number of recurring characters, and Van Hamme introduces an increased element of characterisation, some of which appears to be building towards a larger overall picture. He’s been taking care to present Freddy Kaplan, previously Winch’s first choice pilot, as someone with a greater depth and a past. Obsession, both financial and romantic plays a part, and the main corporate threat to Winch isn’t another greedy financier, but a high profile lawyer.
As ever, it’s all resolved very cleverly, and the next pairing of Largo Winch books is The Three Eyes of the Guardians of the Tao and The Way and the Virtue.