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Saturday, July 17, 2010

Reading List: Extreme Measures

Flynn, Vince. Extreme Measures. New York: Pocket Books, 2008. ISBN 978-1-4165-0504-4.
This is the ninth novel in the Mitch Rapp (warning—the article at this link contains minor spoilers) series and is perhaps the most politically charged of the saga so far. When a high-ranking Taliban commander and liaison to al-Qaeda is captured in Afghanistan, CIA agent Mike Nash begins an interrogation with the aim of uncovering a sleeper cell planning terrorist attacks in the United States, but is constrained in his methods by a grandstanding senator who insists that the protections of the Geneva Convention be applied to this non-state murderer. Frustrated, Nash calls in Mitch Rapp for a covert and intense debrief of the prisoner, but things go horribly wrong and Rapp ends up in the lock-up of Bagram Air Base charged with violence not only against the prisoner but also a U.S. Air Force colonel (who is one of the great twits of all time—one wonders even with a service academy ring how such a jackass could attain that rank).

Rapp finds himself summoned before the Senate Judiciary Committee to answer the charges and endure the venting of pompous gasbags which constitutes the bulk of such proceedings. This time, however, Rapp isn't having any. He challenges the senators directly, starkly forcing them to choose between legalistic niceties and defeating rogue killers who do not play by the rules. Meanwhile, the sleeper cell is activated and puts into motion its plot to wreak terror on the political class in Washington. Deprived of information from the Taliban captive, the attack takes place, forcing politicians to realise that verbal virtuosity and grandstanding in front of cameras is no way to fight a war. Or, at least, for a moment until they forget once again, and as long as it is they who are personally threatened, not their constituents.

As Mitch Rapp becomes a senior figure and something of a Washington celebrity, Mike Nash is emerging as the conflicted CIA cowboy that Rapp was in the early books of the series. I suspect we'll see more and more of Nash in the future as Rapp recedes into the background.

Posted at July 17, 2010 15:20