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Sunday, April 15, 2012

Reading List: Kill Shot

Flynn, Vince. Kill Shot. New York: Atria Books, 2012. ISBN 978-1-4165-9520-5.
This is the twelfth novel in the Mitch Rapp (warning—the article at this link contains minor spoilers) series, but chronologically is second in the saga, picking up a year after the events of American Assassin (December 2010). Mitch Rapp has hit his stride as the CIA's weapon of choice against the terror masters, operating alone with only the knowledge of a few people, dispatching his targets with head shots when they least expect it and, in doing so, beginning to sow terror among the terrorists.

Rapp is in Paris to take out the visiting Libyan oil minister, who has been a conduit for funding terrorist attacks, including the Pan Am Flight 103 bombing which killed Rapp's college sweetheart and set him on the trajectory toward his current career—this time it's personal. The hit goes horribly wrong, leaving a trail of bodies and hundreds of cartridge casings in a posh hotel, with the potential of a disastrous public relations blowback for the CIA, and Rapp's superiors looking at prospects ranging from congressional hearings at best to time in Club Fed. Based on how things went down, Rapp becomes persuaded that he was set up and does not know who he can trust and lies low, while his bosses fear the worst: that their assassin has gone rogue.

The profane and ruthless Stan Hurley, who trained Rapp and whose opinion of the “college boy” has matured from dislike to detestation and distrust, is dispatched to Paris to find out what happened, locate Rapp, and if necessary put an end to his career in the manner to which Hurley and his goons are accustomed.

This is a satisfying thriller with plenty of twists and turns, interesting and often complicated characters, and a thoroughly satisfying conclusion. We see, especially in the interrogation of “Victor”, how far Rapp has come from his first days with Hurley, and that the tension between the two may have at its roots the fact that they are becoming more and more alike, a prospect Rapp finds repellent. Unlike American Assassin, which is firmly anchored in the chaos of early 1990s Beirut, apart from a few details (such as mobile telephones being novel and uncommon), the present novel could be set at almost any time since 1990—historical events play no part in the story. It's best to read American Assassin first, as it provides the back story on the characters and will provide more insight into their motivations, but this book works perfectly well as a stand-alone thriller should you prefer to start here.

Posted at April 15, 2012 15:46