How hardcore are you if you keep getting rescued?

SPOILERS FOR THE QUEEN & COUNTRY SERIES AHOY.

I finished Greg Rucka’s The Last Run the other night.  It’s the third Tara Chace thriller novel; there’s also a graphic novel series that fills in her backstory and some of her adventures as a covert agent for Britain’s SIS.  Overall, I have really enjoyed the three books and the scattered graphic novels I’ve managed to find, the books more so than the graphic novels mostly because I prefer word to drawing but that’s just a matter of taste.

Tara Chase is an expert; at this point, five years have passed since A Gentleman’s Game, and she is Minder One, agent in charge of the team of three in her Ops group, and apparently fairly well-known within the espionage and intelligence community.  She gets the job done, even if in the end the outcome isn’t exactly as planned; she’s always moving, planning, thinking, reacting to changes in the situation.  And yet in both the second and third books, she’s caught and either tortured or in a very bad position, and has to be rescued.  She does a good job of evading capture for a while, and maneuvers to the point that she can be extracted or exfiltrated by her service (rather than be abandoned)…and yet she’s still being rescued.

On one hand, Rucka does a great job of demonstrating how operations never go as planned, and the outcome is often not what was anticipated, resulting in possibly horrendous blowback.  And Chace is a great character, if a little underdrawn outside of professional accomplishments.  On the other hand, are there male spy protagonists who have to be rescued in the end?  I haven’t read a lot of espionage thrillers, not since back before Tom Clancy and Jack Ryan jumped the shark, so I can’t really compare.  And the ending of The Last Run makes sense in terms of the larger plot for the book and the story arc, assuming this is either the last book or a transition book.  But hovering in my mind is the question:  how often to badass spy heroes have to be rescued in the end, and would the story be different if Tara were Tim or Tom instead?

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