Review: Gone Tomorrow – Lee Child

4 of 5 stars

Series: Jack Reacher 12

My version: Paperback
Fiction Crime, thriller
Bantam Books
2009
Bought

Suicide bombers are easy to spot.

They give out all kinds of tell-tale signs. Mostly because they are nervous. By definition they are al first-timers…

There are twelve things to look for.

New York City subway, two o’clock in the morning. Jack Reacher studies his fellow passengers. Four are OK. The fifth isn’t. He ticks off every bullet point on the list as the train brakes for Grand Central Station.

At least we seem to be finished with that teeth business that’s plagued the last couple of books.

The irritation here, is the padding. There always has been a lot of padding in these Jack Reacher books, but it’s developing into an epidemic nowadays and Gone Tomorrow takes it to whole new levels. I’d reckon Lee Child thinks of it as his style (like his style in the first two novels, was the one word, one line sentences. There’s still plenty of them, but he has managed to string more than 5 words together without a full stop in between nowadays. But it’s really not necessary. And irritating. “Get on with it!” As I’m shouting. He doesn’t need to spend so much time on the small things. He’s already convinced us that Reacher has an eye for detail and is very thorough. He can move on, surely? The result of all this padding and analysis, is it removes any last vestiges of tension and therefore excitement from the story. Stringing everything out, with Reacher contemplating every angle and every possible conceivable result, before he chops someone with a backhand to the neck, is an excitement hoover if ever you read one. These stories, in another author’s hands – or an editor with a bigger red pen and a pair – would really be something. But only half as long and therefore not in the airport house-brick section. Just think what a collection of Reacher short stories must be like…

Other things to note, to replace the teeth – what’s with Child and Crown Vic‘s? Everyone’s got them and everyone driving by is in one. And ‘K’ turns? ‘Three Point’ will do, thank you Lee. That and it’s clear he has invested in a new Thesaurus since the last book. Problem there, descriptions become even more of a shopping list. Not just what’s in the room(s) and where, to  l o n g lists of adjectives and verbs, where one would do.

Having said all that…I still like Reacher, he is likeable. More likeable than irritating, in the long run I suppose that’s what keeps people buying them. And a no nonsense way of doing what is needed. Like Mitch Rapp in that way. Just lower down the pay scale. There are some very decent plot and character surprises served up, mostly going to show up Reacher’s fallibility and how it affects him and of course, what that surprise does to us, which is interesting.

You can buy Gone Tomorrow at Booksplea.se

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Review: Hereward The Bloody Crown – James Wilde

hereward-the-bloody-crown-james-wilde4 of 5 stars

Series: Hereward 6

My version: Hardback
Historical Fiction 1066, Eastern Roman Empire
Bantam Press
2016
Bought, Signed

1081. And so the battle for the crown of the Holy Roman Empire begins…

Within the city of Constantinople itself, three factions will go to any lengths – will, it seems, kill any who might stand in their way – to seize the throne.

And outside the city’s walls, two very different but equally ambitious armies gather, threatening a siege that would crush this once-mighty empire forever. To the west, wait the voracious forces of the most feared Norman warlord of his day. In the east, the Turkish hoards are massing. These would be at war with each other but for their shared lust for slaughter – and for Constantinople’s gold.

And in the midst of this incipient maelstrom of brutality and betrayal, Hereward and his spear-brothers ready themselves for what could be their final stand…

This just might be the final Hereward. The jacket blurb does indeed describe it as ‘the dramatic final chapter’ though at the end, Mr James does more than hint, if the wind is in the right direction, he may return to Hereward at some time in the future. I think the time is right to leave Hereward in Constantinople. He’s run his course for now, and this is a fine send-off, if it be that. It’s a story full of action, full of Hereward (and others)’s last moment interventions and piles on the excitement almost non-stop. Almost, because I can really do without the convoluted, back-stabbing, two-faced politiking that Hist Fic authors always entangle their stories of post-Roman empire Constantinople with. I”m not saying it didn’t happen, but a couple of lines would be enough for me/us to get the picture. All ‘that sort of stuff‘ has been trotted out so many times – you should register with an author that you’ve read it all before, you know how it was, so they (and you) can skip it this time out. Especially as this is supposed to be a tale of Hereward and his warriors. And saying that – it’s a shame there hasn’t been more time to go into the minor characters. The ones Hereward brought with him and have been with him through thick and thin, they sound an intriguing bunch and lose out on page space, with all the various Constantinople ‘Houses’ trying to second guess each other. However, there is (more) mileage to be wrung out of Hereward as the antidote to all that poison. A simple warrior, seeing to the heart of the problem – and doing something about it. If I were to draw a parallel with other books I’ve read plenty of recently, I’d have to mention Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp character. He is, as above, a simple man, someone who sees where the problem is and gets things done. Other parallels are of course, with the politicians in Vince Flynn, the factions here. Really goes to show that nothing changes but the genre.

You can buy Hereward The Bloody Crown from Booksplea.se

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Review: The Survivor – Vince Flynn with Kyle Mills

the-survivor-vince-flynn-kyle-mills5 of 5 stars

Series: Mitch Rapp 15

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller, terrorism
Simon & Schuster
2015
Bought

Joseph ‘Rick’ Rickman, former boy wonder of the CIA, stole top secret intel concerning classified operations all over the world, offering it (and himself) to the Pakistani secret forces. His plan ended when CIA Director Irene Kennedy sent Mitch Rapp to hunt him down. Or so the CIA thought. In fact, the nightmare is only beginning – Rickman stored the devastating data somewhere only he knew and Mitch Rapp must now race against time to retrieve it first…

First off, this is a lovely looking book, the paperback. Fits in with the rest of the series, but looks fresh (as it is in a sense) and feels lovely. Typography alone sold me on it. Continues with the ‘one man’ theme too, which is good. Especially when you have them all lined up on your bookshelf. And when you look at some of the dog’s dinners the Americans have had to suffer…

There is something that needs to be addressed – Rapp is no fun. At all. He has a one-track mind. Describing it as ‘determination’ works only so far. He’s been the ‘one man wrecking crew’ for so long, he believes it is the only way to be. There is one (extremely) funny/witty aside here, and it really goes to highlight the fun-free zone Rapp is. OK, you can argue that he needs to focus, that his role and the time we’re with him in the book, means he needs to be totally focussed, so we don’t get to see the ‘fun’ side of him, that happens off-camera. But even so, there’s absolutely no sign that that side of him exists. This really needs to be introduced, and soon. Even thinking back to when he was with his wife, they weren’t exactly carefree and laughing. Nowadays, he’s more Neanderthal than man. You do bad. Me kill you. We don’t need Roger Moore/Bond-type quips (which are rubbish, ‘oohh, I’m glad I have my corset on for I fear my sides have split’ anyway), but we need something more to help Rapp become a fully rounded, flesh and blood character. That can be Kyle Mills’ job.

Having said all that, when you get to the end, presumably the part Mills was solely responsible for – well, see if I’m right or I’m right.

The recent volumes have been perhaps more closely linked than the early books. Not that you’re left on a cliff-hanger, but there is a lot of unfinished business and leads into the next one at the end of each last one. Kyle Mills seems to think we need bringing up to speed a little more often than Vince Flynn ever did and that needs to be curtailed. Maybe it was to show that while he may be the new guy, Mitch Rapp is still how we want him. As a writer, I can’t imagine Mills will let that happen too often and (having already read the next one), I can confirm he is further developing Rapp, true to Vince Flynn’s intentions, but maybe with a little Kyle Mills thrown in the mix.

So, this is probably a book that Vince Flynn either started, or mapped out and Kyle Mills was brought in to finish, or worked with Vince Flynn as his cancer got worse. I’ll miss Vince Flynn tremendously. I heard about American Assassin, read the blurb, thought this is for me, just the way I like them and got the lot bought. VF is a cut above just about everything I’ve read in this genre. As someone who works on a Cancer ward every day, I can tell you, it’s hard to see people with Cancer and know there’s pretty much nothing anyone can do. Fill them full of poison and cross your fingers. I didn’t buy the books out of any kind of sympathy, but I’m so glad I did, I’m so glad I was here, alive, at the same time as Vince Flynn. You’ll be missed, Vince.

You can buy The Survivor from Booksplea.se

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Review: The Last Man – Vince Flynn

the-last-man-vince-flynn5 of 5 stars

Series: Mitch Rapp 13

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller, terrorism
Simon & Schuster
2012
Bought

A hero can’t always be good…

Joe Rickman, head of clandestine operations in the Middle East, has been kidnapped and with him top secret CIA information that could prove disasterous in thew wrong hands.

Mitch Rapp must find Rickman at all costs. But something doesn’t add up and he soon suspects something even more sinister is afoot.

With elements inside his own government working against him, Rapp will have to make a tough call between playing the hero and playing nice. Or will he be stopped dead before he can succeed?

This series has just been getting better and better. Better written, better plotted, wholly satisfying and provocative, if you want it to be, or fist pumping ‘got ’em! if you want it to be that. I go with the former mostly, but I’m not adverse to the latter at times.

The book is pretty much totally set in The East, where, as you know, anything can happen. The ogre for the USA and CIA here, is Pakistan, or ‘elements’ as they’re always called, mostly in and around the ‘tribal areas’ up there by Afghanistan – where even more can happen, as you also know well. As before, there is just Mitch Rapp and his abilities standing between us and disaster. Irene CIA leader, is left at home for the most of this, a voice on the end of the phone always trying to muck up Rapp’s plans. Well, she’s maybe the voice of his conscience that he doesn’t really have.

The whole plot turns on the character of Rickman, what he knows, what he doesn’t know and who he may have been forced to tell it to and what they may or may not either want for that information, or do with it (and…breathe…). Again, there’s the ‘enemy at home’ to contend with, though the all politicians are lying, two-faced, backstabbing, greedy, strutting, imbeciles, is toned down a little. Just a little. Rickman reminded me of the kind of ‘gone native’ type character I remember was in John le Carre’s The Honourable Schoolboy (I’m probably ‘remembering’ it all wrong, so don’t go on at me please), and an interesting character. The only bother was, if he’s so all-knowingly powerful, as in a huge, huge great problem if they get hold of him – why hasn’t he appeared before? I’d have liked to have had his backstory worked into some previous novels. Too late now though At least The Last Man will, if you’re anything like me, have you going back to re-read passages to see where they fooled you.

Then, Rapp having a ‘Tough call’ ?! between being nice or cutting someone up into little pieces, with a machine pistol? Who they trying to kid?

The Last Man would seem to be the final novel that Vince Flynn completed on his own before his death. He will be missed. Maybe he chose the right moment though, as there’s no way he could have had written a responsible, sensible, intellectual president in post-2016 books, now is there? It’ll be interesting to see what Kyle Mills makes of that office, in the book he will have finished towards the end of 2017. The President has been taking a back seat in the last book and this one, so maybe the idea of Kennedy and Rapp operating unrestricted, on their own, is the right one. Sometime, somewhere, someone is going to have to ask for the President’s approval on something…that’ll be fun.

You can buy The Last Man at Booksplea.se

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Review: Pursuit of Honour – Vince Flynn

pursuit-of-honour-vince-flynn5 of 5 stars

Series: Mitch Rapp 10

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller, terrorism
Simon & Schuster
2007
Bought

Honour must be satisfied…

A series of explosions devastates Washington D.C., killing 185 people. An act of extreme violence calls for an extreme response from the counter-terrorism operative.

Enter Mitch Rapp. Working together with team member Mike Nash, he must hunt down the three al-Qaeda terrorists still at large…by any means necessary.

No one knows better than Rapp, the personal, physical and emotional sacrifices that the job requires. And when Nash begins to crack under the ever increasing pressure of the mission, Rapp must take steps to save his friend and close in on the enemy – before it’s too late for them both.

I’ve long been hoping that ‘the traitor within’ would become a theme, a thread. for these books. It has been touched on but never fully developed into a plot a couple of times before in the series, but never developed further. This doesn’t do it either. It flirts with the possibility, but goes away from it again. Never mind, it’s surely an area ripe with possibilities for the future.

It really would be wrong to see these books as just gung-ho ‘let’s kill the bastards’ typical thrillers. They’ve become much more than that. Not that they really were to start with, but you denigrate them at your peril. Vince Flynn doesn’t shy away from the big and tricky questions surrounding the pursuit of terrorists. That alone, is absolutely refreshing, especially from an American thriller writer. Mitch Rapp, the main character as always, is used as the catalyst for much of it all. He does the dirty work, the killing, but his presence and his actions are used by Flynn, to look elsewhere in this murky, double-standard world. The only problem I think they’ve got (the characters in the book, I mean) (maybe I should get a life, I know) is that they are painting themselves into a corner, with their over-reliance on Rapp. Only he seems able to get them out of the tight corners. And, doesn’t Kennedy have other responsibilities? Book hints at it, but she gives all her time to Rapp. There’s never any mention of other people carrying out other operations. It’s not as though he sits waiting in reserve, ready to come off the bench – he is all they’ve got. There is no back up, no plan B. After he’s gone, and there is even some recognition in the books now that he’s not getting any younger, they’re knackered.

The last two or three books can seem more than a little misogynistic at times. The long rants – over last two books – have been at women. The women are of course, absolute bitches. Who don’t understand. Even Irene Kennedy can be a bitch and a fussy old, non-understanding the real world men are in, woman at times. He needs to watch out for that maybe. To avoid type-casting all women that pop into the books as ‘trouble’ in one form or other.

It’s also kinda tricky sometimes to swallow the awe and fear that the book says Rapp generates amongst foe and (some) friend(s) alike. He doesn’t really do all that much. Here, the breakthroughs are handed to him pretty much on a plate. I think the problem is, the book has a lot to cover, so a lot of the chase, and Rapp’s supposed dogged determination to always get (read ‘kill‘) his man, has to go, leaving it just to be mentioned by those who know (of) him. And me saying ‘eh?!’ It’s luck. That Rapp wasn’t killed by assassin Gould. Gould decided not to kill him. Wasn’t due to Rapp’s Spideysense tingling, as is always trumpeted elsewhere in the books.

Still, it is again good to have Stan Hurley back. And the book is tense and thrilling with a nail-biting finale. It’s well and tightly written, with some great turns, twists even. All believable. All in all, excellent, heading towards superb.

You can buy Pursuit of Honour at Booksplea.se

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Review: Extreme Measures – Vince Flynn

extremem-measures-vince-flynn5 of 5 stars

Series: Mitch Rapp 11

My version:
Hardback
Fiction Thriller
Simon & Schuster
2008
Bought

A hero betrayed by his own country must take extreme measures in his fight for the truth.

A lethal terrorist cell is about to descend on America – and Mitch Rapp needs his best man to take on this terrifying new threat. Former Marine Corps officer Mike Nash, who has served his government honourably for sixteen years, is Rapp’s choice.

Meeting violence with extreme violence, Nash has never wavered in his fight against the jihadists and their culture of death. Fighting the war on terror in secret, he has been forced to lie to every person he cares about. Yet he has soldiered on, secure in the knowledge that his hard work and lethal tactics have saved the lives of thousands.

But the one thing Nash never saw coming was that his own government was about to turn on him…

For me, one of the major pleasures was the reappearance of Stan Hurley. If I’m right, we’ve not seen anything of Hurley since the Weezer album of the same name, I mean since book three-ish. When he arrives, you realise how much you’ve missed him. He’s not so much of a foil for Mitch Rapp, as a sounding board, a confirmation that what he is doing is ‘right’ in their world and – he fights back. The only one that ever has fought Rapp to a standstill? And at 70-odd, he proves he still can. Excellent to have him back.

Without doubt, and I know, Extreme Measures is the best of the series so far (as you do/don’t know, I’m reading them in the order they were written). It works really very well on several levels, if you take the trouble to think about what you’re reading. In a very even-handed way, there are arguments presented for and against doing what ‘has to be done,’ for the majority. To maybe sacrifice one or two to ‘save the lives of thousands.’ Where have we heard that before…oh yes, Communism, Socialism, Europe. Maybe that’s also what Flynn is presenting?

‘The Government about to turn on him’ can be read two ways, too. One before and while you read the book, the other, after you’ve finished it. The Senator is against all that Rapp and the CIA and Nash stand for and what they are doing, but Mr Flynn is surely using her to show how politicians always lose sight of the main objective (as Flynn, Rapp and ‘we’ see it, of course), and get involved in nit-picking, point-scoring, for the sake of it. Effectively fiddling while Rome burns and sometimes evoking a feeling that Rapp and Nash’s worst enemies, are back at ‘home.’ Not one reading this is in any doubt that is how it is.

The question of why the terrorist(s) is/are doing it is also looked at. Islam is given a fair ride here, as has been the case all the way through the series. Flynn is in the ‘corrupted faith’ camp, but then I’m sure most of the world, of any faith, is as well. Are they fighting for the glory of God, or for the glory of themselves? Which also surely refers back to possibly explain why the politicians are doing what they are doing – for their own glory. Superb!

The character of Nash, is to show the other side of the effects of the terrorist threat. How it affects an otherwise ‘normal’ person. Of course, having a wife and kids is a weakness in this world. It’s a weakness to/for Rapp, which is pretty much how he sees it and most likely why his wife and child were written out. It’s an exploitable weakness. A way for ‘them’ (you decide which side) to get to you. ‘We’re all on the same side’ is also used more than once, so that’s obviously a theme Flynn had in mind as well.

There is perhaps a little over-reliance on the ‘you only know, you are only doing your job if you’re out in the field’ angle. True in a way, but sometimes it is used to resolve an argument, which just sounds a little childish.

All that said, Extreme Measures is, above all, well-written, tense, exciting and, as a Thriller should be, thrilling. Extremely.

You can buy Extreme Measures at Booksplea.se

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Review: Protect and Defend – Vince Flynn

protect-and-defend-vince-flynn5 of 5 stars

Series: Mitch Rapp 10

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller, terrorosm
Simon & Schuster
2007
Bought

Only one man can bring the world back from the brink of nuclear war.

In a daring raid, Israel destroys Iran’s main nuclear facility, creating a radioactive tomb and an environmental disaster. An outraged United Nations condemns the attack while Iran swears vengeance against Israel and her chief backer, the USA.

Enter Lebanese master terrorist Imad Mukhtar who’s spent the past decade picking his targets and preparing his cells for this exact moment.

With the US on high alert, the President calls on the one man ruthless enough to counter the fanatical terrorist. Enter Mitch Rapp, America’s terrorist hunter and one-man wrecking crew. Meeting violence with violence, Rapp tracks Mukhtar across Europe to America, where they are pitted against each other in a hunt only one of them can survive.

Vince Flynn’s books are so much more than the unfortunately composed ‘one-man wrecking crew’ line would suggest to the new reader. Yes it delivers on the thrills and spills premise written about on the back, but that really doesn’t cover the half of it. Rapp may not do much thinking beyond where was he tricked and how does he kill the bastard best, but the thinking is being done, by other characters. Irene Kennedy, for example. This frees Rapp up to get on with killing the bastards… It is right about the ‘only one man’ part and that’s also a problem, as really, a country the size of the USA, ‘only one man’ doesn’t really work, does it?

It’s good that Flynn is taking on the US’ ally in the region, here and in some previous books. While Rapp doesn’t get to muse on the legitimacy of the settler’s house-building on ‘occupied’ ground, even having the Israelis in, is good. And good that it’s not just because ‘Mossad are the best ever.’ Obviously, the Arabs have to be the bad guys, but it’s no way one-dimensional in that respect.

With the chasing across the world, from a Middle East start, after a master terrorist, it again reminded me (positively) of Terry Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim that’s good, by the way.

The series is ten books old, for me, now and is really hitting its stride. They’ve continually got better and better, both in terms of character, story, plotting and writing. Vince Flynn has been setting the whole of his world up to edge towards perfection. He’s done it. If there are better thrillers out there…there aren’t, don’t bother looking.

You can buy Protect and Defend at Booksplea.se

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Review: Act of Treason – Vince Flynn

act-of-treason-vince-flynn5 of 5 stars

Series:
Mitch Rapp 9

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller, terrorism
Simon & Schuster
2006
Bought

He’s got a plan. He’s got an enemy, Time to execute them both.

There are two weeks to go to the US presidential election when the hot favourite, Josh Alexander, is ambushed by a terrorist bomb. He narrowly escapes, but members of his entourage are not so lucky. Alexander is carried to victory by a sympathy vote.

On the surface, it appears to be the work of al-Qaeda. But then CIA director Irene Kennedy is presented with classified information so toxic that she has no option but to call on Mitch Rapp, America’s top counterterrorism operative: the one man reckless enough to follow the evidence to its explosive conclusion…

Politicians acting sympathetically! Politicians acting according to their conscience! Whoever heard of such nonsense?! Vince Flynn doesn’t/didn’t like politicians much. This is a theme that has and does run through his books. They’re only looking out for themselves, when they say they’re looking out for you and I (were we ‘The American People’).

I’ve mentioned before, that Vince Flynn was well on the way to writing the perfect thriller. Here, he’s 99% of the way. This is interesting, tense, taught, and working on a level most thriller writers can only dream of. He’s taken his time getting here, this is number nine in the Mitch Rapp series, but all his groundwork, preparing the way for different aspects of the stories he’s now writing, have really paid off. My beef about the unexplained ten year gap in the whole story’s timeline, is still not cleared up, though it really doesn’t matter, as (almost to make up for that mistake, and I do think it was a mistake) Rapp is now clutter-free and back in action in the field. Whether any responsible CIA Director would send their ‘top counterterrorism expert’ out in the field so often, is another matter. Rapp doesn’t like sitting behind a desk and is so ‘rebellious,’ that they pretty much can’t stop him. It is this ‘blank cheque’ aspect, that maybe just keeps Act of Treason off the 100% perfection.

You should buy Act of Treason from Booksplea.se

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Review: Consent to Kill – Vince Flynn

consent-to-kill-vince-flynn5 of 5 stars

Series:
Mitch Rapp 8

My version: Paperback
Fiction Thriller, terrorism
Simon & Schuster
2005
Bought

An eye for an eye…

For years, Mitch Rapp’s bold actions have saved the lives of thousands. He has killed with impunity, tortured to avert disaster, and shown he will do whatever it takes to win the War on Terror. He has become a hero to many – and an enemy to countless more.

Now, the powerful father of a dead terrorist demands vengeance in its simplest form. He wants Rapp dead – and his hate-filled plea has found sympathetic ears.

In the tangled world of espionage there are those, even amongst America’s allies, who feel Rapp has grown too effective. They’ve been looking for a chance to eliminate America’s No.1 counterterrorism operative- and now their time has come.

Rapp must use all his skill and ruthless determination to save himself before he can turn his fury on those who have dared to betray him.

The one in which Mitch Rapp becomes a fully 3D character. He is presented almost like a machine for most of the book, by most of the other characters – friend or foe alike. If this happens, then this will happen. A switch that once turned on, can’t be turned off. But in the closing scenes, he steps back, looks at himself, realises or thinks about what is important to him, if he is the person he thinks he is, and becomes Mitch Rapp the person. A little like the scene at the end of the James Bond ‘Casino Royale.’ No softening, no diluting of purpose, just a reaffirmation of why he’s doing what he does. Thus elevating this masterful thriller from a page-turner, to a page-stopper.

One thing generally with this series: There’s no explanation for Rapp seemingly giving up on his original purpose, to kill those responsible for killing his girlfriend aboard the Locherbie plane. It’s never been stated that he’d got them all, or that they were locked up (in a Scottish jail) or released and that he went after them again (There’s no explanation about the ten year timeline gap either, but that’s another matter).

All’s fair in love and war, is he saying that? Someone, the ‘enemy’ is ‘tortured to avert disaster.’ The needs of the many out weigh the needs of the few. Especially if ‘the few’ are terrorists. It is essentially a book of two halves. One they chase him, two he chases them. Comparable in feel and non-stop readability, to Terry Hayes’ I Am Pilgrim I thought. Vince Flynn just gets better and better. If he can keep to this level, he’ll have written the perfect thriller before long (I’m reading the whole series in the ‘correct’ order).

You should buy Consent to Kill from Booksplea.se

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Review: Memorial Day – Vince Flynn

memorial-day-vince-flynn4 of 5 stars

Series:
Mitch Rapp 7

My version:
Paperback
Fiction Thriller, Terrorism
Simon & Schuster
2004
Bought

The nation’s in danger and only Mitch Rapp knows.

When a spike in US intelligence suggests a major terrorist attack planned for Memorial Day, the president orders Mitch Rapp, his top counterterrorism operative, to pull out all the stops.

Rapp leaves for Afghanistan where he leads the ultra-secret Special Forces unit on a daring commando raid across the border into northern Pakistan. Their target: an al-Qaeda stronghold. Within a subterranean room, Rapp and his team discover a treasure trove of maps, files and bills for multiple freighters heading to US ports – all pointing to plans for a catastrophic attack on Washington D.C.

Information is relayed to CIA HQ. In a few hours, the freighters have been located and the danger averted. Or has it?

To Mitch Rapp, it all seems too easy. Following his instincts he makes a truly terrifying discovery  – and with Memorial Day closing fast, he must find a way to prevent a disaster of unimaginable proportions…

Or, Vince Flynn’s version of The Sum of All Fears.

In contrast to most blockbuster films these days, which always seem to destroy New York (ok, sometimes San Francisco), Vince Flynn seems to have something against Washington DC. Explainable, understandable even, when thought of in association with his (maybe) views on many of those in the higher echelons of US politics. By writing about how corrupt many of them up there are, he’s seemingly passing a social comment. It’s not a new thought, and not, though many would like to think, totally reserved for US politicians. Maybe more noticeable, what with the stealing of elections and the lies that become the truth and all. But, it also serves as a contrast to the ‘good guys’ he’s got in the story. They’re totally, totally, incorruptible. Maybe not totally whiter than white, as they do do some morally questionable things here and there, but, in contrast to Matt Hilton’s Joe Hunter, they do stuff first, think about it later. They don’t do that whole worrying thing. And are always presented as having the best interests of The American People (so boringly beloved of Presidential candidates. – every four years anyway) at heart. These best interests are also set up as the best interests the people at the top should have at their hearts. The overwhelming feeling is, that he’s saying as long as there are a bunch of people with the skills to defend the people and the Constitution (though why a 200-odd year old piece of nonsense should be defended in the 21st Century, I don’t know), the bad guys on either side of the divide will be caught, maybe put on trial, certainly tortured, made to pay generally, and then it’ll be all right in the end. I did wonder whether Flynn’s actually saying, ‘read my books, it would be this easy, if just those lily-livered career politicians in Washington would get their fingers out.’ I’d really hesitate to say that, had he lived, Vince Flynn would be a Trump supporter, no, I really don’t think so. If I did, I’d stop reading the books immediately. I think Flynn is too intelligent. His writing, increasingly as the series progresses, too multifaceted and world-aware for that sort of blinkered, philistine, pig-ignorance.

The improvement for me here too, was that this time out, the wife’s not in it at all. She’s away. With relatives I think. She’s not called, he’s not called. Actually, I did wonder if Rapp might have forgotten he’s married. I’ve read the next book already, so I do know what comes next, however, the story, the writing and the character of Rapp are improved greatly by not having her around. You know it. I’m not against him having a female interest – that was what got him started on the whole trip in American Assassin after all, but maybe it was a mistake to have his wife a TV news reporter based in Washington. We’ll see… Then, there’s the whole Harry Hole conundrum. As the reader can see, there’s far too much book left for it all to be over after the bomb is discovered…I’ll leave it there. It’s a problem no one has solved satisfactorily as yet. Probably never will.

However, the plot is pretty water-tight, the motives on both sides are totally believable and the writing is excellent, clear, purposeful, full of nuance and improving with each book (I’m reading them in order from the start). The characters that people the world Flynn has created over the previous books are now working very well indeed, their lives and motivations make sense, I care about what happens to them. Vince Flynn is on the way to writing the perfect thriller, there’s no doubt of that. This isn’t quite it yet, maybe next time. If he comes clean about why the ten-year jump…

You can buy Memorial Day at Booksplea.se

Related reviews on Speesh Reads:

American Assassin