Queen & Country: Declassified
by Greg Rucka, Brian Hurtt
(Oni, 2003)

Paul Crocker is a field agent for British Intelligence, on a mission to help a KGB agent get out of Prague so he can work as a double agent. The job's been getting to him, however, as he has suffered what his boss labels a "rotten run of luck" as of late. Not to mention what it's doing to his marriage.

That's all I'll say about the story, but I will add that if you're a fan of the TV show Alias or the movie Ronin, this book should be on your reading list.

Writer Greg Rucka leads the reader on an interesting and enjoyable international adventure with a wonderful cloak-and-dagger flavor. The story itself is not complicated, or even particularly complex; it's a fairly straightforward spy tale. It's Rucka's characterization that steals the show. He does a great job giving his characters depth and making their motivations clear. The dialogue is believable, and it's easy for the reader to empathize with the main character, Crocker, as he seeks to balance his sense of duty with his love for his wife.

Brian Hurtt is the artist on the book. I don't believe I had ever seen any of his work before, but I'll be watching for it from now on. Hurtt is not a strict student of realism, but there is such an element in his work. He balances it well, however, with a hint of "cartoony" expression, in the wider-than-normal chins, thicker-than-normal limbs and the like. His men are beefy and, judging from the single female character in the story, his women are curvy and attractive, but none of it in exaggerated fashion. It's a solid style that looks like nothing else I've seen.

Queen & Country: Declassified is not recommended for kids due to some profanity, but adult readers and fans of spy and espionage stories will enjoy it.

by Mark Allen
17 June 2006

Buy it from Amazon.com.