Largo Winch – the priceless thriller that’s all about the money…
Jean Van Hamme and Philippe Franq
Okay… here’s the blurb… The Price Of Money:
“A man shoots himself in front of Largo, live on TV. He was a guest on a financial talk show who had lost his company because of a Group W decision. Shocked by the knowledge that he is indirectly responsible, Winch becomes an object of hatred for the nation, and his two best friends abandon him. When suspicions arise that shady dealings led to unnecessary restructurings, he launches an investigation to identify the real culprits.”
…. and The Law Of The Dollar:
“Accused of murder and hated by an entire nation, Largo is hiding in Canada and feeling very much alone. But his friendships are stronger than his circumstances, and soon he’s able to counterattack against the various factions that are trying to bring him down. Greedy lawyers, crooked CEOs, murderous accountants, all pitted against the orphan turned billionaire… In the end, only the smartest and strongest will prevail—for such is the Law of the Dollar.”
Okay, now I know that two parts is the way it was originally planned and published, and Cinebook are doing it right, but I’m always pleased when I get these in pairs – start and finish all in one glorious read.
It’s wonderful watching Van Hamme and Vance get the pacing just right, building everything up, layering the business intricacies and the action until the cliffhanger, usually involving Largo in trouble up to his neck, all to be resolved in the action-packed, and plot heavy finale.
But having both books at once, it’s ever so satisfying being able to finish part 1, take a breather, and then reach out and plunge straight into part 2. And just to be clear, reading The Law Of The Dollar without first having read The Price Of Money is a really, really, really dumb idea. Don’t be silly, get them both.
Because make no mistake about it, Largo Winch is a magnificent action thriller with a difference. The difference being it’s not really an action thriller at all – in reality it’s a wonderfully thought out, ridiculously over the top, densely plotted action thriller where more often than not, Largo Winch (“anti-establishment, womanizer, wanderer, iconoclast, and fighter“, head of the W Group, worth $10 billion) spends most of his time like this….
… or like this:
And it’s the sitting around talking business, or the standing around talking business, or the walking about talking business that really is the standout here. It’s the thing I really love the series for.
Sure, Van Hamme throws the occasional car chase, scuffle, or other modicum of action in every few pages to fulfill some contractual obligation or keep Francq happy or something, but the real thrill of this brilliant thriller is watching Largo Winch work his way through a business problem, using James Bond like charm and a bit of Jason Bourne style action.
When there is action, it’s just as beautifully done, your pulse already racing thanks to the meticulous manner writer and artist have upped the ante throughout, the ongoing plots and manoeuvrings of the financial world to thoroughly stitch Largo up accelerating until having a bit of a car chase is almost a release to the thrilling tension.
And then Franc really lets loose, delivering some beautiful, beautiful stuff. Here’s page 3 of the climactic car chase in The Price Of Money, with Winch on the run from the police, trying to get to the airport where his new pilot is waiting to fly him to relative safety. It’s so well composed; the long shots to start with, the cars racing through panel, the way ahead blocked, the smashing through the fence, and into the path of his plane… ooooohh….
This one is all about stock options, so much so that there’s half a page of explanatory text on the first page of The Law Of The Dollar along with the publishing details. It’s completely unecessary, as it’s all been beautifully, clearly, and thrillingly explained in the first book with Van Hamme’s text heavy plot carried along beautifully by Franq’s sumptuous artwork. There are books where this much text would merely slow it all down too much, make it practically unreadable, but those are books written by people who dream of being able to do it as well as Van Hamme.
The only issue I had trouble with regarding Largo Winch is whether I like it slightly more or slightly less than Van Hamme’s other magnificent thriller; XIII. I think, now we’re into double figures with each, that I’m coming down (just) on the side of Largo Winch. That wonderful mix of financial machinations, thoughts being just as important as deeds, and the action stuff just wins out over XIII. But luckily, I can have both. And so can we. Life is good.