Who is XIII?
Book 1 - Mr Alan Smith?
Book 2 - Captain Steve Rowland?
Book 3 - Prisoner Steve Rowland?
Book 4 - Corporal Ross Tanner?
Book 5 - Agent Jason Fly?
Book 6 - Writer John Fleming?
The seventh book in the XIII series, The Night Of August Third, continues the story begun in the previous book The Jason Fly Case.
XIII is trapped in the small town of Green Falls by an avalanche that has also trapped and injured his friend and ally, Major Jones. Still maintaining his cover of writer John Fleming, he is trying to track down what happened to the young Jason Fly, the person he now believes himself to be, and Fly's father on the third of August twenty years beforehand. Having made enemies of Sheriff Quinn and local bigwig Dwight Rigby, instigated partially by XIII's hitman enemy known as the Mongoose, XIII is now on the run with the town conducting a manhunt for him as he returns to the home of Zeke Hathaway. There he finds a hidden notebook that gives him much more information on his background.
In the meanwhile the Mongoose has tracked down Jones to the house of XIII's friend Judith Warner leading to a scantily clad Jones attempting to escape through the snow before she is imprisoned in the town's police station. This proves to be no safer for her as some of the locals break in with the intention of taking revenge on her for the death of their friend.
The Jason Fly Case and The Night Of August Third are two parts of the one story although, as ever, this book provides a detailed full page catch-up at the beginning. The relative peacefulness of the first book is thoroughly shattered in this conclusion with the series moving back into full blown action adventure mode as the plot twists back and forth from danger to intrigue to explanation.
Two sections standout: the book changes from colour to black and white art as XIII reads the notebook that details the two decade old back story of Jason Fly giving a true flashback feel to the panels, while the normally indefatigable Jones finally gets into a situation in the jail cell that she cannot save herself from. This jail scene, with its racial and sexual overtones, takes the series to a place that it has not previously been to and places Jones into a situation of implied peril that is perhaps more effective, and unnerving, than the multitude of fist fights and shoot-outs that we have seen her in before.
Just when you thought that XIII was giving you a relatively quiet small town mystery with The Jason Fly Case, The Night Of August Third turns the tables and reminds you just how much of an adrenaline rush Van Hamme's writing coupled with Vance's artwork can be.
• Buy XIII Vol.7: The Night of August Third from amazon.co.uk
• Buy The Night of August Third: XIII Vol. 7 from amazon.com
• There are more details of the English language XIII books on Cinebook's website.
• There are more details of the original French XIII albums on the official XIII website (in French).
• The downthetubes review of the previous XIII book, The Jason Fly Case is here.
• You can read an interview with Cinebook publisher Olivier Cadic and XIII translator Jerome Saincantin on downthetubes at XIII Questions About XIII.
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