Insiders – another political thriller from Cinebook. Just without the thrills….
by Jean-Claude Bartoll and Ranaud Garetta
Across the world, organised crime networks are overlapping and joining forces, creating a worldwide criminal organisation that increasingly hides behind a façade of legality. Faced with this worldwide criminal conspiracy the White House creates a secret, President’s eyes only undercover organisation with a brief to infiltrate and bring down the new threats against democracy. They are The Insiders. (And that last bit really needed a husky voice over and atmospheric music to do it justice).
The first Insider is Najah Cruz, a young woman recruited from the battlefields of Chechnya after an early life inside the Columbian drug cartels, where she rose through the ranks until her actions avenging the murder of her adoptive parents kills both the main drug lord and a corrupt DEA agent. She’s on her own, on the run, and has the combined forces of Cartel killers, DEA agents and the Columbian police after her. So she does the only thing she can and disappears, reappearing in Chechnya trying to fight the good fight of a freedom fighter, only to discover that the men she’s fighting alongside can’t seem to agree on what they’re fighting for.
And it’s at that point that she finds herself recruited by the US, her previous life wiped from the records and a new life as an Insider about to begin.
(Our first look at Najah, the first Insider. Lovely art from Garetta on this section, moody and interesting. From Insiders: Chechen Guerrilla from Cinebook.)
I was really looking forward to this, another of Cinebook’s series of great political thrillers after the likes of Largo Winch, I.R.$. and Lady S. But sadly, this is no Largo Winch and Bartoll is no Jean Van Hamme. The action fair limps along, disconnected scene to disconnected scene whilst the principal players, with whom we never connect, simply wander their way through the action with stilted and completely uninteresting dialogue. And although I’m well aware it’s a thriller and is all about the suspension of belief, there’s still got to be a believable element somewhere in the plotting to allow the reader to get into the action. But not here – take Najah’s character – a bit of training by an ex-Mossad agent and some action in Chechnya and that suddenly makes her the best hope for the free world against the forces of criminality? It never rings true, never convinces, never even begins to entertain.
(So, the president of the US,on the word of one man, sets up a covert paramilitary force to battle a global conspiracy of organised crime masquerading behind respectable politicians and businessmen? From Insiders: Chechen Guerrilla from Cinebook)
It took about 30 pages to be completely convinced that Insiders was going nowhere but I still slogged through to the very end. Sadly, although there are occasional moments of enjoyment, it never really picks up. Similarly the artwork is alright but never inspired, failing to generate any sense of action or excitement across the pages – individual panels are nice but they just don’t flow, don’t tell the visual story. And to be honest I was so demoralised by the story that the artwork kind of washed over me anyway at this point.
I wanted the excitement that the back cover blurb of “An exciting thriller set within the corridors of power” had promised me, but with Insiders I got a pale reflection of the sort of great political thriller I’ve come to really enjoy from Cinebook. A real shame. Do yourself a favour and read Largo Winch or I.R.$. – they’re just what Insiders wanted to be.