Review: Red War – Kyle Mills (after Vince Flynn)

Vince Flynn Red War Kyle Mills
You see what they did there?

Series: Mitch Rapp 17

My version: Hardback
Genre: Fiction Thriller
Publisher: Faber & Faber (Penguin Random House)
First published: 2018

From the cover

A resurgent Russia looms over Europe…can anyone stop it? When Russian president Maxim Krupin discovers that he has inoperable brain cancer, he’s determined to cling to power. His first task is to kill or imprison any of his countrymen who can threaten him. Soon, though, his illness becomes serious enough to require a more dramatic diversion – war with the West. Upon learning of Krupin’s condition, CIA director Irene Kennedy understands that the United States is facing an opponent who has nothing to lose. The only way to avoid a confrontation is to send Mitch Rapp to Russia under impossibly dangerous orders. With the Kremlin’s entire security apparatus hunting him, he must find and kill a man whom many have deemed the most powerful in the world.

Well, there are several things about this one that don’t work, several hold on just a moment moments and a general feeling that the themes have gotten much too ‘big,’ but then I found myself thinking despite all that, once I ‘let go’, it actually works quite nicely. That’s not to say that all my concerns have suddenly melted away, just that, as pure entertainment, it’s a winner. And, there are, some nice touches.

This is the US version. I’m not liking that one little bit. The UK version (main image) isn’t too hot, but better than this knock-off

First, the Russian President’s name…we all know that’s supposed to be Putin, don’t we? I really think, however, and despite the character having appeared for a couple of books now, that the name could, should, have been significantly improved. What it’s saying is the current, real-world Russian President, is like this. It’s a parody, rather than a serious attempt at a rogue Russian President, leading to a dangerous situation for the USA, Europe and the world. It’s not something I can take seriously, or read the name without a mental or verbal groan. It’s perhaps for the best that he may/may not be in the next book, if you get my meaning. The Russian stat pictured here, is basically a rogue state, governed by mini-Tsars, all looking to milk their country for as much as they can get, and once they’ve finished with Russia, the rest of the world. That’s not to say that modern Russia isn’t a 18th Century state in a 21st Century world, but the picture could be a bit more nuanced.

It does all mean that the Russians have clearly now fully overtaken the Arabs in the Mitch Rapp world. I can’t see that that reflects any wider mirroring of the current state of play in the USA, there is no real commentary on the disastrous situation over there, the President of the USA pictured here is actually a proper, competent, coherent, non-moronic leader, and maybe the concerns expressed in the book – about the state of NATO and all, are opinions held across the divide.

My other long-term problem with the later Mitch Rapp novels is, that in this world, the USA only has Mitch Rapp to solve any problem with the rest of the world. Only he can help, only he, if sent, can rescue their asses. Rapp is pally with everyone at the top, everywhere. They’ve all heard of him oh, the Mitch Rapp, they all seem to know all about him. there’s absolutely no surprise left in the character on the evidence here. And no matter what happens, what sticky seemingly impossible situation he gets into, you know he’s gonna get out of it ok, largely because he is Mitch Rapp. That needs addressing, and quick. I have seen a short summary of the next book, and it looks like KM has received the brain waves, and is toning the character down for the next book, going less only one man can save the world from disaster, going, hopefully, a little more small scale, as that is a sure way of ramping up the tension and the thrills.

And..if you think about it, there are distinct parallels between Mitch Rapp’s only Mitch Rapp can get us out of this impossible situation…with Tom Cruise’s Ethan Hunt and Mission Impossible. The major difference being that Ethan Hunt does at least have both a team of close comrades to work with and does at least, often rely on them and their input. Mitch Rapp is the thriller world’s Ethan Hunt.

All in all though, you’re getting what you are paying for with Kyle Mills’ version of Mitch Rapp, and that is entertainment, shot through with topical bang-up-to-date, imagery. And a silly name for the Russian president thrown in (note, Jason Matthews’ Red Sparrow trilogy uses Putin as the Russian president). Red War is entertaining, it is a good read, it just needs to take an extra couple of shots of thrill.

You can buy Red War from The Book Depository

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