Kill Shot: An American Assassin Thriller
If you have any doubts about Vince Flynn, you need to read the acknowledgements in his latest work. Flynn has had a tough year with health issues, which were significant enough to delay the completion and publication of KILL SHOT from 2011 to the early months of 2012. Whether or not the book is worth the wait is beside the point --- we need someone like Flynn alive for his own sake, aside from whatever considerable enjoyment might be derived from his novels --- but let us address the question anyway. Is KILL SHOT worth the wait? You bet!
"It has been reported elsewhere that Flynn’s books can be found in the libraries of at least two former presidents. While the position does not lend itself well to on-the-job training, a set of the Rapp canon would collectively constitute an appropriate manual concerning clandestine foreign policy."
Flynn is a master --- maybe the master --- of writing thriller novels in which the pages seem to turn themselves. His protagonist, Mitch Rapp, is not invulnerable, but possesses a deadly skill set that makes him the equal of the next best thing. Given that Rapp is usually more than the equal of any individual adversary, Flynn more often than not sets him up against a host of them, with a clock ticking away in the background to boot. Flynn is also possessed of an uncanny vision of how the world truly works, so much so that his work seems to be remarkably prescient in presenting what will happen in six months to a year, and how. So what’s here that you can’t love?
Flynn’s last book, 2010’s AMERICAN ASSASSIN, was, for want of a better term, Mitch Rapp’s origin novel. KILL SHOT continues the exploration of his early years. Rapp is an energetic CIA enforcer who has been turned loose on the world’s terrorists, a seemingly invisible secret weapon of destruction that is keeping those who would destroy western civilization awake at night. There is a problem, of course. There are some --- the very people who brought Rapp into the CIA and set him loose --- who worry that he does his job too well. What will happen, they wonder, if he goes rogue? Their question is seemingly answered when an assigned hit on a terrorist in Paris goes wrong. Rapp completes his mission, but in the process walks into an ambush. The resulting carnage results in several civilian injuries through no fault or cause of his own. Wounded, with almost nowhere to turn, Rapp finds that the blame for the aftermath falls upon his shoulders. As events unfold, he discerns that he almost certainly was set up by someone in the CIA’s hierarchy.
On the run from the two different sets of law enforcement personnel, terrorists and his own employer, Rapp must somehow clear his name and avenge himself against those who betrayed him. Overwhelming odds? Sure. But bet on Rapp. I truly love how he takes a thread here and a hint there, and with the help of a secondary character or two, slowly but surely turns things around. And if one were to see the book as a metaphor for Flynn’s own battles with his illness, that is certainly one interpretation that might be more than valid.
It has been reported elsewhere that Flynn’s books can be found in the libraries of at least two former presidents. While the position does not lend itself well to on-the-job training, a set of the Rapp canon would collectively constitute an appropriate manual concerning clandestine foreign policy. For the rest of us, we can read KILL SHOT, the latest and possibly the best in the series.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on February 9, 2012