Current Reviews


Insiders: Missiles for Islamabad (volume 2)

Posted: Wednesday, July 21, 2010
By: Penny Kenny

Jean-Claude Bartoll
Renaud Garreta
Deep undercover in billionaire Sam Nachez's organization, Najah tries to learn more about the secret Great Council of Organized Crime while at the same time protecting her cover. Meanwhile, her government liaison lies in a coma and her only other contact is captured by an organized crime mole who works out of the White House.

Politics. Crime. Beautiful women. Good looking men. Gun fights. Terrorist bombings. Formula One racing. In short, forty-five pages of action and adventure with an intelligent, savvy female lead.

There's a lot going on in this second volume of the Insiders. However, Jean-Claude Bartoll makes certain that readers can easily follow the plot. Like Najah, we might not yet have all the pieces, but we can see the framework. Even readers who hop on with this installment won't be totally lost--in part because a "What's Come Before" page opens the book, but mainly because Bartoll knows what to put in a story to make it "New Reader" friendly.

For instance, a flashback reminds readers of key information and brings new readers up to speed while also setting-up an important confrontation. It's a tribute to Bartoll's scripting that he can present a complex story in such a manner that readers don't feel confused.

Najah is an interesting heroine. She's extremely competent when dealing with guns and breaking and entering. She thinks fast on her feet and is calm under pressure--with the scene at the villa when one of Nachez's other employees confronts her, trying to discover who she really is, being a perfect example. Yet, my favorite scene might be the one where she's trying to escape after stealing a computer disc.

However, Najah isn't a superwoman. She can be confused and fearful. She also gets angry when innocents are hurt--such as when she witnesses a young girl caught in the middle of a terrorist attack. Her response is swift and deadly.

Insiders feels like itís the world outside your window. One reason is certain of the story elements are "ripped from the headlines." The other is Renaud Garreta's art. It has a realistic vibe to it. The panels aren't photo-realistic stills. The faces and backgrounds aren't traced, but they look lifelike.

The story deals with the rich and powerful so there are lots of panels of pretty people, but Garreta varies their body types and facial features so they're not all of one type. Additionally, the backgrounds are beautiful. Garreta can draw anything: the coastline of Monaco; Washington, D.C.; a hospital room; a helicopter; race cars; jets; and guns.

One of the better scenes is the one showing Najah climbing down cliffs followed by a man eager to kill her. The grandeur of the cliffs is apparent. Garreta gives them texture and depth with lines and shadows. As beautiful as they are, though, they don't overshadow the action.

Fans of Greg Rucka's White Out and Ed Brubaker's Captain America--as well as fans of well-written action novels--will want to check out Insiders: Missiles for Islamabad.

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