The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.
Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy are back, in the book Vince Flynn’s Red War. But this time they have a new adversary and a new setting, pivoting to the dangers Russia imposes. They race to prevent Russia’s gravely ill leader from starting a full-scale war with NATO.With this novel, it is obvious that Mills, who has taken over the writing of the Mitch Rapp/Irene Kennedy stories, has nailed the personalities and reactions of the characters.
He pivoted to Russia, “I am fascinated with Russia. I grew up reading the Cold War thrillers written by Frederick Forsyth, Tom Clancy, and Robert Ludlum. With the book, Order to Kill, I moved Mitch to deal with the Russians. As they continue to take on the world stage, I liked the idea of this tension between the two countries. Then I had the idea that even dictators eventually get old and weak, so what will happen if someone tries to cling to power, showing signs of erratic behavior.”
This story has the Russian president determined to cling to power after hearing he has brain cancer. He consolidates his control by killing any who threatens him, and then creates a diversion by hoping to start a war with the West.General Andrei Sokolov, the former head of the Russian armed forces and a trusted adviser, is asked to invade three NATO nations, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, with a series of military actions that will allow Krupin to disappear for cancer treatment, without drawing attention. What these two psychopaths do not realize is that CIA Director Irene Kennedy is very suspicious, and to get actionable intelligence she sends Mitch Rapp and Scott Coleman into the Ukraine to be her eyes and ears. At the same time, she sends in Grisha Azarov, a former Russian operative, now a contractor for the CIA, into Russia to find out Krupin’s whereabouts. As the action escalates, events appear to be going nuclear, literally and figuratively.
Irene Kennedy plays a pivotal role, but from behind the scenes. “I wrote her as the puppet master. In this book, everything that happens is orchestrated by her. For her, it is winning, but not letting anyone know we won. Everything folds into place without people knowing she is involved. She always has some way to get what she wants, yet, stays in the background. I see her playing a large role, but not like in the book Protect And Defendthat Vince Flynn wrote. I never really liked that she was captured by the Iranians and always felt she would never have put herself in that situation.”
Grisha Azarov returns, not as Rapp’s adversary, but as his ally. He is no longer Krupin’s deadly assassin, a job that once put him on a collision course with Mitch Rapp. Both decided on a truce after Grisha worked with Mitch on a past mission. Now, Irene Kennedy connects the dots and realizes Krupin has ordered Azarov to be assassinated. She sends in Rapp to rescue him and figure out why Krupin sent in a kill team. Bent on revenge after Azarov’s girlfriend was severely injured, he joins forces with Mitch and Irene to eliminate Krupin, who Irene understands has nothing to lose in this deadly game.
Comparing the two, Mills noted, “Grisha and Mitch had women they loved injured or killed because of who they are. But Mitch became who he is because of his anger and sense of duty. Grisha went into it because he was good at it and did not want to be a farmer. He never fought because he believed in something, but did it because it paid good money. I think they are motivated in different ways. Azarov will not be back. He has traveled back to Costa Rica and will retire, but Scott Coleman will be prevalent.”
Another returning character is Scott Coleman. Mills highlights the close relationship between Rapp and Coleman. As with the early Rapp books they challenge each other and the banter between them is hilarious.
Readers will be hooked from the very beginning. It is one of those rare stories where people will be disappointed that they have finished the book. Unfortunately, Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy fans will have to wait a year for another story, but fortunately they know with Mills at the helm the Vince Flynn characters will be around to protect and defend their fellow citizens.