By Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Francq
At this stage, having reviewed the previous 6 Cinebook volumes (and 10 parts – the first 4 volumes were double sized) I’m at the stage where it’s getting a little silly doing these individual volume reviews.
Here’s a selection of bits from previous reviews to give you an idea…..
“Largo Winch is wonderfully good, old fashioned escapism. But it’s also very cleverly done, a thriller with a brain. Perfect stuff. It’s my favourite of all the Cinebook releases I’ve seen so far.” (Volume 1: The Heir)
“I think the really impressive thing about Largo Winch, and especially here in Takeover Bid, is the way that Van Hamme essentially spends the entire book playing out a complicated series of business deals and an awful lot of dialogue – yet still manages to make it as thrilling as the very best action thriller you’ll read or see. When the action does kick in towards the end it’s almost a distraction from the brilliance of the high flying financial machinations that make up the majority of the book.” (Volume 2: The Takeover Bid)
“Largo Winch is an absolutely cracking thriller. Incredibly cinematic in it’s plot and pacing and essentially it’s a great James Bond movie but without the ridiculously overblown set pieces that rather take something away from the essential brilliance of Fleming’s books.” (Volume 3: The Dutch Connection)
“…it just doesn’t get tired, you’re propelled through a Largo Winch adventure by the sheer manic entertainment of the thing.” (Volume 4: The Hour Of The Tiger)
“It’s not original, not anymore, but every time I finish a story I don’t think of it as unoriginal, I just luxuriate in the thrill of a great story, featuring a great front man, written and drawn with skill and style. Take your Bonds and your Bournes and throw them out, Largo Winch is the classiest action thriller around.” (Volume 5 & 6: See Venice…. And Die)
So yes, I’m a fan. And essentially, until Van Hamme completely blows it and produces a terrible story – you may as well take it as read that Largo Winch is a consummate thriller with similarly impressive artwork from Philippe Francq.
(Simon Ovronnaz. He may be a good friend to Largo Winch, but he’s a terrible actor. From Largo Winch: Golden Gate by Van Hamme and Francq, published by Cinebook)
In this latest volume we’re off to the movies where Largo’s friend Simon has landed a starring role as Mike Shadow in the utterly terrible 30s gangster TV series “Golden Gate”. But all is not well, as you might expect. Golden Gate is part financed by the W Group and irregularities in the funding of the series have been uncovered. The first Largo hears of this is when the investigator sent to look at the problem disappears.
(A page of that wonderful Largo Winch business speak. From Largo Winch: Golden Gate by Van Hamme and Francq, published by Cinebook)
Which is all it takes to throw Largo (and us readers) into an American adventure, complete with lavish excess, organised crime, prostitution rings and people trafficing. The list of potential bad guys builds and builds – the rival movie studio boss? W9’s new manager? The ominous Don Candido, owner of W9’s partner in the Golden Gate venture? And who exactly is the mysterious Shadow – could it be someone inside the W Group? So many possibilities, so much potential for big business intrigue, so many wonderful scenes to be set…..
So as usual, by the end of the volume, Largo finds himself up to his neck in trouble, wanted by the police, a victim of a carefully constructed conspiracy designed to destroy the W Group.
(Smart suits, Mafia style Dons, beautiful women – it’s just so Largo. From Largo Winch: Golden Gate by Van Hamme and Francq, published by Cinebook)
Volume 7; Golden Gate continues the standard Largo Winch format – each story with Largo Winch takes place across two volumes. The first sets everything up and inevitably puts Largo into some dire predicament at the end, where he’s at risk of losing his life or his ownership of the W Group and often it’s both.
There’s precious little action – that all comes next time in the concluding part. But the lack of action certainly doesn’t make Golden Gate less thrilling. Van Hamme is an absolute master at building up his story, setting everything up so well. And in Golden Gate he does it again. There’s an awful lot of dialogue in Largo Winch, particularly during the complicated build up. And it’s something I’ve criticised for killing the pacing of a story dead in Blake & Mortimer before now. But somehow, with Van Hamme, both here with Winch and in his other great thriller XIII, it works quite magnificently. (I must get around to seeing what the Blake & Mortimer volumes written by Van Hamme are like.)
As usual, I loved my regular fix of Largo Winch. It had everything I’d come to expect from Van Hamme’s writing in this series. It really has become a favourite treat, a guaranteed great read every couple of months along with Van Hamme’s other perfectly constructed thriller XIII.
My only real criticism is of the new format. I know it’s in keeping with how it was originally produced and I know Van Hamme writes each story to be split across each volume. But I much preferred being able to get the whole thing in one go – the build-up, the cliffhanger and the action packed second half – all in one satisfying read. This way I have to wait, impatiently, for Volume 8; Shadow. And that’s just not fair.