Book Review- The Last Run
Endings are tricky and often messy things, but they’re necessary especially in the world of series fiction. Awhile back I interviewed a writer about his series of books and he says if a series goes on too long you run the risk of it just becoming a collection of expected scenes and not a novel. So when you write series fiction you always want to keep things fresh and moving forward or you want to bring your series to a close. With his last novel “The Walking Dead” writer Greg Rucka showed that he knew how to bring his series of novels about former bodyguard Atticus Kodiak to a close. And in his most recent novel “The Last Run” Rucka successfully wraps up the story of another one of his long running series characters, female British spy Tara Chase.
Chase made her first appearance in Rucka’s long running creator owned comic series from Oni Press “Queen & Country” and for those of you who haven’t read the graphic novels you really should. They’re great, gritty reads. After that Rucka brought Chase into the world of prose with two novels, “Private Wars” and a “A Gentlemen’s Game”. For those of you unfamiliar with Chase she could probably be best thought of as a female version of Daniel Craig’s James Bond from “Casino Royal”. She’s cool, charismatic, very lethal and by the time “The Last Run” begins she’s haunted.
Chase is haunted by the memory of a deceased lover who gave her a daughter. She’s also haunted by the fact that time is taking it’s toll on her body and her psyche. She knows that if she’s to live to see her five year old daughter become a woman she has to retire. So she submits her resignation. However the British Secret Service isn’t quite ready for Tara to retire. A very important individual is looking to defect from Iran. The United States is ready to help with the defection but only if the British send their top operative, Chase.
So Tara heads to Iran and walks right into a deadly trap. It’s a trap that has her running from, hiding from, and trying to escape the counter intelligence arm of the Iranian Secret Service. Much of the novel focuses on Chase’s desperate attempt to escape the country and make it back to her daughter alive. So “The Last Run” is fun, fast, and exciting read. Rucka knows how to write believable action scenes and puts his protagonist in danger that feels very real, especially since you know it’s the final novel in the series.
Another reason Rucka succeeds with “The Last Run” is his cast of characters. Chase is very likeable, but my favorite character in the “Queen & Country” books has always been her boss Paul Crocker. In “The Last Run” Rucka gives Crocker plenty of time to shine. His most interesting traits; his loyalty, his hot hotheadedness, and his ingenuity are all compelling and important story elements.
The other compelling supporting players in “The Last Run” are new characters. Caleb Lewis is a sort of a rookie British SIS agent stationed in Tehran that’s called in to help Tara in her mission. Caleb is a charismatic character who is a better spy than he thinks he is. It’s a lot of fun and satisfying to see how he handles certain situations. Youness Shirazi is the antagonist in “The Last Run”. He’s a passionate, capable and intelligence spy who also happens to be the head of Iran’s counter intelligence. He’s a great foil for Tara Chase’s final mission.
And I’m sure some of you are wondering just how Tara’s final mission ends. Well no spoilers here! I will say though that with “The Last Run” Rucka brings his “Queen & Country” series to a fitting and satisfying close.