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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Reading List: The Third Option

Flynn, Vince. The Third Option. New York: Pocket Books, 2000. ISBN 978-0-671-04732-0.
This is the second novel in the Mitch Rapp (warning—the article at this link contains minor spoilers) series. Unlike the previous episode, Transfer of Power (April 2009), which involved a high-profile terrorist strike, this is much more of a grudge match conducted in the shadows, with Rapp as much prey as hunter and uncertain of whom he can trust. Flynn demonstrates he can pull off this kind of ambiguous espionage story as well as the flash-bang variety, and while closing the present story in a satisfying way sets the stage for the next round of intrigue without resorting to a cliffhanger.

Rapp's character becomes increasingly complex as the saga unfolds, and while often conflicted he is mission-oriented and has no difficulty understanding his job description. Here he's reluctantly describing it to a congressman who has insisted he be taken into confidence (p. 296):

“… I'm what you might call a counterterrorism specialist.”

“Okay … and what, may I ask, does a counterterrorism specialist do?”

Rapp was not well versed in trying to spin what he did, so he just blurted out the hard, cold truth. “I kill terrorists.”

“Say again?”

“I hunt them down, and I kill them.”

No nuance for Mr. Mitch!

This is a superbly crafted thriller which will make you hunger for the next. Fortunately, there are seven sequels already published and more on the way. See my comments on the first installment for additional details and a link to an interview with the author. The montage on the cover of the paperback edition I read uses a biohazard sign (☣) as its background—I have no idea why—neither disease nor biological weapons figure in the story in any way. Yes, I've been reading a lot of thrillers recently—summer's comin' and 'tis the season for light and breezy reading. I'll reserve Quantum Field Theory in a Nutshell for the dwindling daylight of autumn, if you don't mind.

Posted at June 2, 2009 23:11