Vince Flynn’s “American Assassin,” Mitch Rapp, is not a suave, smooth-talking spy. He is a twenty-three year old, non-skirt-chaser, non-political, All-American lacrosse player who has never been in the military.
Ian Fleming and Hollywood gave us James Bond and glamorized the life of a spy, interweaving assassinations with hot cars, cool guns, and fast women. However, the tuxedo wearing, Baccarat playing, former Navy Commander rarely had a hair out of place, even when being tortured. Bond had the full force of the British Secret Service behind him, including military backup and impossibly cool gadgets with which to work whenever he got into a jam. 007 was the embodiment of MI6 and was staunchly patriotic. Those characteristics appeared to be the standard by which all other spies in books, on TV, and in the movies were measured.
So how does Mitch Rapp qualify to become an assassin? How is he turned into an efficient human killing machine? What motivates him to do the job?
He is recruited. An assistant to the CIA Director of Operations sees something in Rapp that could change the direction of a CIA in disarray after many intelligence failures. The CIA needs to take the fight to the enemy instead of merely reacting to events, and Rapp may be just the one to do it.
Mitch Rapp, at the beginning of his career in “American Assassin,” will not have the official backing of the CIA, and in an almost “Mission Impossible” style interview, is told that his very existence will be denied if he is caught doing his job overseas. He has guns, his mental agility, his physical skills, and a passport – not much else. Oh, and a training officer that doesn’t like him, calls him a ‘college puke’ and doubts that he is truly qualified to carry out any assignments. Sound like something you’d sign up for?
Flynn writes Rapp so convincingly that we buy it all. Why? Rapp agrees to take the job because of revenge, pure and simple. His girlfriend was killed in the Pan Am Lockerbie disaster and he wants to see the perpetrators dead. His ability is proven again and again as he puts up with what he considers the sham of his training, verbally challenging his so-called mentors and questioning his own motivation in the process.
After his first operation, Rapp looks in the mirror and realizes a killer is looking back at him. And, he’s okay with it.
Flynn explores the post-Lockerbie world and places it in historical context, so that the reader can recognize the global players in the intelligence community. The bad guys are varying shades of nasty, and the good guys/gals are complex, layered characters.
“American Assassin,” an intense page-turner that Flynn waited fifteen years to write, is a strongly political anti-terrorism thriller. In the book, an American businessman is kidnapped in Beirut, an operative goes in after him, then is captured as well. There are references to torture, to rendition, and to the Middle Eastern conflict.
Mitch Rapp is a character originated in “Transfer of Power,” published in 1999, the first of the thirteen Rapp books. “American Assassin” tells us how it all began for Rapp and is now listed as the first in the series.
Sadly, Vince Flynn passed away in 2013 at the age of 47 after a bout with cancer. His family, friends, and fans sorely miss him.
For more information about Vince Flynn, his body of work, and his charities, please visit www.vinceflynn.com