Mitch Rapp #4
Simon & Schuster
Mitch Rapp has been set up. People will pay.
Mitch Rapp, the CIA’s top counterterrorism operative, is sent on what is designed to be his final mission: to eliminate a European industrialist, who has been selling sensitive equipment to one of terrorism’s most notorious sponsors. What he doesn’t know, is that the ultimate target of the mission, is himself.
Set up by forces within the US who do not want the next Director-elect of the CIA to take over, and therefore need to engineer a disaster for the present regime, Mitch thwarts their plans by refusing to die.
The conspirators have made an awful mistake. They have enraged one of the most lethal and effective killers the CIA has ever produced. Now they will pay.
To be honest, the back cover blurb sounds a whole lot better than the actual book. As it would, I guess, once the marketing department got hold of it. That’s not to say it’s a bad book, just that it doesn’t live up to the promise. Not that I always read the back cover blurb, I seldom do actually, and hadn’t in this case. So, I thought it was good, but flawed.
As I say, it is mostly about Washington politics. It’s a bit of a watered-down ‘House of Cards,’ the ‘you might think that – I couldn’t possibly comment’ series, you know it. It works to an extent, the senator Clark while being a good start, really isn’t nasty and/or devious enough as yet. So, as the pervious book, it’s a look at internal Washington backslapping and backstabbing. To be truthful, Rapp is hardly in the first third. From then on it feels like Flynn was actually setting up future volumes and setting the scene for future conflicts. Which is interesting and irritating, because – as I’ve mentioned before – I have had it pretty much from the horse’s mouth that I’m reading them in the intended order, but the ten year gap between #2 and #3 still isn’t explained. Here, Mitch Rapp thinks he’s at the end of the active part of his career, and has resolved to leave the Service, to ‘spend more time with his family’ as all the best politicians say. What he has done during that ten year period is sometimes alluded to, but never developed. It’s used to create for him something of a legend as, as the cover says, ‘the CIA’s top counterterrorism operative.’ Assassin, to you and me, but as the assassinated are terrorists or terrorist supporters, it’s ok.
And there lies another problem. Frankly, if you consider what happens, from Rapp not suss-ing that the opening action in Germany was a set-up, to him dishing out his mobile number, to him having told his girlfriend pretty much everything, to him also telling girlfriend’s friend’s husband, who is a senator (and not exactly known for their ability to keep secrets under their hats), to Rapp sending the stooge back in to his (Rapp’s) house carrying a cardboard tray with four large coffees and a load of sandwiches – with at least two broken fingers – you get a very good impression that Rapp just isn’t very good at what he does. Has done for ten years! Especially as the opening subterfuge that he didn’t spot, also happened 10 years ago. OK his Spidey sense did tingle both times, but he did nothing about it either time. And both times, him being incommunicado after both afore-mentioned fuck-ups, is not seen back at CIA by his closest friends/allies as him being injured and unable to communicate. That never enters into the thinking back at base. Even though it’s the first thing you and I might think and it’s surely something the old guy back at the CIA has surely gone through a thousand times. It certainly doesn’t do a right lot to justify the “Vince Flynn clearly has one eye on Lee Child’s action thriller throne…” one eye maybe, but he needs to have both. Though I don’t know how this one was marketed in the US.
But these books are ‘feel good’ books. Not so much me, I’m European. Not so much you, an individual. But to America, white Donald Trump America as a collective. They are to make Americans feel good about themselves. Fulfilling an American desire that they can do this sort of thing. That there may be a hidden department (or two) that can do this sort of thing. But…they can’t. If they could, Snowden wouldn’t be sitting at a computer in Moscow right now.
I think the style works very well though. Polished, not flashy and certainly doesn’t feel formularised. I think what Flynn is doing in placing Rapp well within the realms of what really goes on behind the scenes and the clear commentary on US politics more often than not hindering rather than helping and being more about short-term personal gain, than what is good for the country as a whole, in the long term, is really working well. The UK publishers clearly want to appeal to fans of Jack Reacher though really, this is a step up, with, dare I say, higher ambitions.
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