Lady S – A Mole In DC.
Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Aymond.
Suzan Fitzroy, working at the highest levels of US politics, finds herself an unwitting pawn of unscrupulous men once more. But this time out, it’s not Suzan who’s the target, and Van Hamme’s stylish spy thriller transforms into a stylish, albeit not completely satisfying tale of political decit and conspiracy.
Lady S is the tale of Suzan Fitzroy, the adopted daughter of US ambassador James Fitzroy, with a fascinating and very colourful past, mostly unknown to Fitzroy. Her real name is Shania Rivkas, an Estonian whose parents were murdered by the KGB, and who barely made it out of the Soviet Union alive. Since being adopted by Fitzroy and his late wife, Suzan’s past has come back to haunt her, a mysterious international anti-terrorist group has enough dirt on Suzan/Shania to destroy her and she’s blackmailed into operating as a spy infiltrating the highest diplomatic circles.
But this volume has little to do with Lady S, and far more to do with that initial deceit when Shania became Suzan, when Fitzroy broke the law to circumvent US immigration. He’s now even higher in Washington, and in a relationship with the first female President, six months from the end of her first term, hungry for her second.
The last thing she needs is a political scandal, and yet you just know everything here adds up to just that. Unscrupulous men have unveiled the truth, and everything Fitzroy has worked towards could come crashing down.
And it’s the more overtly political aspect of this volume of Lady S that made it perhaps my favourite so far, or at least my favourite right up to the final few pages, where it all just goes horribly wrong. The most telling thing about this volume of Lady S is that I got to page 35 of the 46 page long book and found myself fully expecting to see a ‘to be continued’ caption at the end.
Everything up to that point had done a very typically Van Hamme job of setting up all the political intrigue, exchanging the complex financial manoeuvrings I enjoy so much in Largo Winch for Washington based political manoeuvrings. On top of this there’s a few stylish action scenes as Suzan runs from the conspiracy that’s painted her and her father into a terrible corner.
And then in the space of just 11 pages, Van Hamme wraps it all up, pretty much throwing away all of the intriguing character building and political intrigue in favour of rushing us through to a satisfactory resolution. And that felt like such a waste, all the complex machievellian plotting from the President’s conniving, corpulant, and ruthless challenger thrown away all too quickly. All the potential for having Susan go on the run dumped way too soon – and in doing so, denying us the chance of seeing Aymond really cut loose with his very stylish action sequences after a book’s worth of alright but nothing overly great talking heads scenes.
I’ve had a troubled relationship with Van Hamme’s writing on Lady S anyway, going from impressed to disappointed and back again with each new volume it seems. This really did seem like a fairly spectacular return to form, until those rushed final pages really rather ruined the whole experience.