(Reviewed by Eleanor Bukowsky MAY 7, 2007)
“Chace was terrified, but that was all right, because she’d have to have been insane not to be. Yet in the midst of her terror, she’d found her anger, and that was what she wanted to hold onto now, what she needed now . . . . This ends only two ways, she told herself. You tell them everything and then they kill you, or they kill you before you can.”
Greg Rucka's Private Wars is a no-holds barred spy novel in which political considerations take precedence over saving lives and protecting human rights. Tara Chace is a courageous, resourceful, and daring British agent whose lover dies, leaving her pregnant with his child. She quits her job, but misses the excitement and quickly becomes restless. When her former boss, Paul Crocker, asks her to conduct a difficult and dangerous mission, she reluctantly agrees.
The job will take place in Uzbekistan, a crucial ally with strategic importance to the West. The head of Uzbekistan is dying and his daughter, Sevara, is in line to take his place. She has already had her sister-in-law tortured and murdered, and may have her sights on her brother, Ruslan, and his two-year-old son, Stepan, as her next victims. Tara's assignment is to spirit Ruslan and Stepan out of the country. What follows is an exciting roller-coaster ride filled with intrigue, betrayal, adrenaline-fueled chase scenes, bloody firefights, and more than a few unpredictable twists and turns. Tara's antagonist is Ahtam Zahldov, Sevara's lover and a sadistic, ambitious, and unprincipled brute who enjoys inflicting pain on his enemies. If she falls into his hands, she faces a slow and agonizing death.
Private Wars is a complex and challenging book that requires a great deal of the reader. It is also a clear indictment of the many lying and unprincipled individuals who run intelligence agencies for personal gain and power rather than to foster peace and spread democratic ideals.
Rucka explores the steep price that being a spy extracts from people like Tara. She suffers from nightmares and post-traumatic stress disorder, and she often must depart at a moment's notice, leaving her small child with a caregiver. Every time she begins an operation, she knows that she may never see her daughter again. Sadly, Tara has learned never to trust anyone. As Rucka points out, espionage consists of "truths revealed to protect lies, relationships twisted to steal secrets, lives surrendered in exchange for [small] gains." People die, careers are ruined, governments are destabilized, and to what end?
Private Wars gets more exciting as the story progresses, and the conclusion is an absolute stunner. This is a thinking person's novel, along the lines of Stella Rimington's At Risk, which I also recommend highly.
- Amazon readers rating: from 11 reviews
(back to top)
Bibliography: (with links to Amazon.com)
- Keeper (1996)
- Finder (1997)
- Smoker (1998)
- Shooting at Midnight (1999)
- Critical Space (2001)
- Patriot Acts (August 2007)
Queen & Country:
- Whiteout (2009)
(back to top)
- Official website for Greg Rucka
- Wikipedia site for Greg Rucka
- Silver Bulletin Interview with Greg Rucka
- An interview with Greg Rucka regarding 52
- The Trades interview with Greg Rucka
- Ninth Art interview with Greg Rucka
- BookReporter.com review of A Gentleman's Game
- BookReporter.com review of Private Wars
(back to top)
About the Author:
Greg Rucka was born in 1969 in San Francisco, California and raised on the central coast of California. He began his writing career in earnest at the age of 10 by winning a county-wide short-story contest. He graduated from Vassar College with a B.A. in English and from the University of Southern California's Master of Professional Writing Program with an M.F.A.
Rucka's work, particularly in comics, has attracted critical and fan acclaim, and also won several awards, including Eisner Awards for the "Half a Life" storyline in Gotham Central. The majority of Rucka's work is in comics. He started with the highly praised Whiteout, published through Oni Press.