The following book review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews by clicking on the Books category link on the right side bar.
The Survivor, a Mitch Rapp novel, by Kyle Mills, brings back the beloved Vince Flynn characters. All Flynn books are based upon action, suspense, and very strong character development. It appears that at least with this book the torch has been passed to Mills while the light still shines on Mitch and Dr. Irene Kennedy.
Mills has the mannerisms of the characters down pat. Although fans might spot some transition in that Mitch uses more psychology than enhanced interrogation to get the terrorists to talk and Irene is referred to as a “bitch” instead of a manipulator and controller. Many readers might try to spot where Vince left off and Kyle’s writing begins. But that is an attempt in futility since Vince only wrote three pages of this novel.
The characters can be seen as role models since Irene is described as “unemotional in public and would allow people to see what she wanted them to. She would not bow down to anyone. As described in the book, she was seen as an icy intellectual who made decisions not based on her gut, but her head. She believed in getting the job done.” Mitch is seen as “having no discernible physical or mental weaknesses with uncanny instincts and no remorse. He’s a survivor.”
The Survivor picks up where Vince’s last book, The Last Man left off. In the previous novel, Joseph “Rick” Rickman staged his own kidnapping and beating, to make it look as though Islamic terrorists tortured him. A video of the staged event was later posted on the Internet and featured what appeared to be Rickman breaking at the hands of his tormentors to reveal secrets. To cover his tracks, he conjured up a plan to kill Mitch Rapp, the one person he feared. But Mitch and Irene figured out Rickman’s scheme and thought they could permanently plug the leak of information by having Mitch kill him. Unfortunately even from the grave Rickman is imposing his revenge by releasing tidbits of information that include top secret CIA intelligence of classified operations and assets. Kennedy, the CIA Director, uses her skills to connect the dots while using Rapp’s skills to find those tasked with leaking the information. Mitch finds himself up against Ahmed Taj, the power hungry Pakistani ISI Director, who wants to bring down the CIA, specifically his nemesis Dr. Kennedy. Mitch must also work briefly with his adversary, Louis Gould, who has his own plans for Rapp’s demise.
Mills told blackfive.net, “My father was an FBI agent most of his life who went on to become the Director of Interpol. He was a good friend with the head of the FBI and MI6. I guess I am pretty well connected in that world and found it very interesting. When I decided to write my own novels I decided to write about what I knew, the CIA, FBI, and MI6. The CIA has to work within certain parameters. In the Mitch Rapp universe they are broader than in the real world. Because I grew up in that world I did not want to take that storyline farther. I did not want it to feel unrealistic. I did some soul searching when I started because Mitch is always doing something above the law. In the books there was always a great benefit that came out of torturing without any costs. But I do not think torture is a super effective way to get information. My father has done a lot of interrogation work at the FBI and said torture doesn’t work. In The Survivor I used a more sophisticated technique similar to what the FBI will do. Having Mitch torture is not something I will strive for.”
One of the reasons readers loved Vince Flynn books is that his main characters always had one goal in mind, the safety of Americans. He was able to break down this complicated world into good guys and bad guys where in the end the good guys win. It was very satisfying to read how the bad guys get their just punishments, which many times includes death. Kyle Mills does a good job in continuing this style of writing. Now that Mills has taken over the storyline it is gratifying to know that Vince will live on through his characters Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy as he rests in peace.