Snappy headline, eh?
Now, if you’ve been concentrating, you’ll know that Kyle Mills is the author of the continuation of the Vince Flynn Mitch Rapp series of books. Links to my reviews of all the books in the series are at the bottom of this post.
In continuing the series so superbly, a fair few problem areas occurred to me, however it is obvious that the good Mr Mills has solved them all very adroitly. With the release of the American Assassin film hopefully bringing a lot of new readers to the cause; all in all, there’s a lot riding on Kyle Mills’ writing these days.
1. OK, it would seem that Kyle has done this sort of thing before, – a couple of thimes, as I can see – but still, there must have been a feeling, from those looking after Vince Flynn’s legacy, that no one could continue the character/series as well as him. So, even after landing on Mills as their preferred choice, my guess is that they were feeling ‘oh well, here goes nothing.’ Which would have, if Mills is anywhere near worth his salt, communicated to Mills himself.
2. The same Kyle Mills himself, must have been under a tremendous amount of pressure, partly self-inflicted. He’d want the job, to continue a best-selling, guaranteed money-printing, book series, soon to be made into the proverbial major motion picture – who wouldn’t? He is the author of several novels of his own, written, at least some of them, before he began his association with Vince Flynn’s books.
So, how much of himself does he subjugate to being Vince Flynn? He has, after all, written 15 thrillers in all at the last count. Where would it cease to be Kyle Mills, or a good Mitch Rapp story and become a parody? The other big continuation series I read these days, is Robert Ludlum’s Jason Bourne, nowadays written by Eric Van Lustbader. Where, interestingly, on the covers of those books, the phrase is ‘Robert Ludlum’s (book title) ‘A (or) The new Jason Bourne adventure (written) by Eric Van Lustbader.’ The Vince Flynn, Kyle Mills collaborations are put as ‘Vince Flynn with Kyle Mills, for The Survivor and Order To Kill, and ‘A Mitch Rapp Novel by Kyle Mills’ for the latest (partly why I surmise there is more Kyle than Vince in Order To Kill).
3. Then there’s the fans, are they with him? I see a very solid readership base for these books. Mainly in the USA, of course, but as the picture does well, spreading more and more world-wide. The die-hard Vince fans must have been looking for cracks in the armour when the first collaboration was released (I’d say the first one Mills co-wrote, would be The Survivor (mainly because of a co-writing credit), then the first true, all-on-his-own Kyle Mills Mitch Rapp, to quite possibly be the latest, Enemy of The State (I’d think that Vince Flynn had at least the next two roughed out before he died, maybe Enemy of The State being rougher, than Order To Kill)). I have seen a couple of lonely reports of people not seeing something as good as Vince Flynn would have done, even people who clearly know better than the caretaker of his estate, suggesting that the recent books aren’t as good. However, they are alone, crying in the wilderness, and wrong. Still, the pressure on KM not to reduce the fanbase must have been extraordinary, from whichever side you look from.
Not on the face of it, an easy task to continue the series. A hiding to nothing, as most people would maybe have agreed. A ‘hospital pass’ as I’d have said to him, had I thought Kyle Mills played rugby. That he has, not just in my view, but the universal consensus of the Vince Flynn-reading audience, succeeded dramatically well, is extraordinarily well done to him. You can not see the joins, yet there is a lot new, and a lot fresh going on in the series, that also bodes extremely well for the future.
Anyway, as I said several months ago when you started reading this, here I’m presenting you with a review and interview extracts by Elise Cooper. You can read several more of her, very interesting, interviews and reviews over on her Type Pad pages. She seems largely in agreement with me, meaning she is right. I don’t tend to read other reviews of books I liked, I do read some reviews of books I didn’t like, just to see if others are right as well.
And, I think there’s possibly a reason for them not upper and lowercase-ing the title on the book covers, as I’d have it as Enemy of The State. If you’ve read the story, or even the blurb, you can probably figure it out.
As you may know, to avoid regurgitating what happens in the story, I put the blurb from the book covers at the start of the review, here though, I’m including Elise’s version of events, as you may not be fully aware of the book. If you are aware of what goes on, and want to cut to the quick, skip the first three paragraphs.
Elise Cooper writes:
With Enemy Of The State Kyle Mills has found his groove as he nailed down the characters created by Vince Flynn. As other thriller authors pivoted away from terrorism, Mitch Rapp, Dr. Irene Kennedy, and company continue to keep America safe by thwarting Islamic jihadists.
As in The Third Option, this plot has Mitch Rapp going somewhat rogue after being asked by the President to perform a mission that is completely off the books. He must track down, interrogate, and kill members of the Saudi royal family who appear to be working with ISIS. Although Irene knows about it she and Mitch realise this must be a completely black ops mission; thus, his resignation from the CIA. The investigation discovered Aali Nassar, Irene’s Saudi counterpart, promising to support America, while secretly in charge of the ISIS financing and eyeing the chance to overtake the country’s government once King Faisal dies. Nassar frames Mitch giving him an excuse to hunt down the one man who might foil his plan to fund ISIS and bring about a Middle East superpower to threaten the US. He gets the US President to agree to have FBI Agent Joel Wilson work with him to find Mitch.
The action never stops as Mitch tries to keep one step ahead of his pursuers and to expose Nassar for what he truly is, a covert terrorist. To help Mitch, Mills has brought back some old familiar faces, while giving others a backseat. The character Dr. Irene Kennedy is central to any book. Mills realises no Mitch Rapp book can succeed without her dominant presence. The scenes with her are a pivotal piece of the plot. Even a few pages speak of Irene’s son Tommy.
Mills describes her as
“a realist, a philosopher of sorts, someone clear eyed and a student of human nature.” She is always in the book, just off the pages. I always think of her as the puppet master. By her own admission she is not involved but watches and waits until it becomes necessary for her to be involved. She is seen as an intellectual who makes decisions based not on her gut, but her head.”
Readers might remember Joel Wilson from The Last Man where he became Mitch’s nemesis. As the deputy director of counterintelligence he accused Mitch of stealing. After being proved wrong Wilson lost that position, and he is now all too happy to work with Nassar while seeking revenge. Because Mitch needs a team to work with and help him confront the bad guys, he enlists the help of Donatella Rahn, his onetime lover, Grisha Azarov, his adversary now a peer, and Kent Black, a former Ranger sniper.
The logistics leader of the team is Claudia Gould who has both a professional and intimate relationship with Mitch. Because she has a six-year-old child, Anna, when at home Mitch gets to play dad. These scenes are a welcome relief and venture back to the first books when Vince Flynn would include some of the character’s personal life. What Mills has brilliantly accomplished is the humanising of Mitch. It is interesting to see the two sides of Rapp, a take charge, non-nonsense patriot, a take no prisoners guy, while acquiescing to Claudia at home.
Mills hopes to continue to have Claudia as a major character.
“She is not the goody character like Anna. Plus she could be a part of some operations because of her experience. Mitch needs a companion. She can be involved in both his professional and personal life. Since Mitch is consumed with his work life anybody he becomes involved with must be a part of it. She is brilliant, beautiful, mysterious, pragmatic, adaptable, and not naïve. I want to humanise Mitch. I think he is fighting for normalcy, peace, and security so while at home he does not want to argue or fight. I do think she takes the initiative at home. When they work together he is in charge, but at home she is in charge.”
This novel perfectly combines geo-politics, covert operations, and the backstory of the characters. Readers can close their eyes and remember past books written by Vince Flynn and will not skip a beat with Kyle Mills at the helm.
Succinctly put, don’t you think? I should probably go away and up my game, I’d say.
I hope you found all the above at least mildly interesting. My thanks to Elise for providing me with the opportunity to present her work (in which I have only corrected her spelling mistakes…you know what I’m saying), I hope I can come with more of it in the future.
The official Speesh Reads two cents: