American Assassin by Vince Flynn Book Review by Mike Nolan
American Assassin should have been the first of Flynn’s Mitch Rapp books. Anyone familiar with the character Mitch Rapp, the CIA’s top black ops anti-terrorist assassin knows the genre. Mitch Rapp is the terrorists’ worst nightmare – a cold brutal killer that thinks nothing of placing 9mm bullets into the heads of really bad people.
This book introduces us to Rapp, recently graduated from Syracuse where he was an All-American Lacrosse player. At age 22, Rapp is at his peak physically, but emotionally seriously hurt; his fiancée was on Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie. His recruiting is the Agency’s new approach – a group of clandestine operatives who will work outside the normal chain of command—men who do not exist but who can bring the battle to the enemy. In other words, Jason Bourne.
Rapp is recruited by Irene Kennedy because he fits the profile, someone who was hurt by terrorist and wants – retribution? Revenge? The story examines this in detail. Is it retribution or revenge? Here, the author, Vince Flynn, permits us a look inside the emotional side of Rapp – a peek into what makes the CIA’s number one assassin tick. What we find is not what is expected. A large portion of the book concerns Rapp’s initial training and pysch profiling. Questions about how he feels about death, killing, compassion, mercy, and revenge are all explored. Given the covert nature of what the CIA has in mind, the story suggests that the Agency is mindful of who they recruit, train and equip – interesting fiction.
The usual blood, guts, brain and body parts that are shot, burnt, blown up and gunned down in graphic albeit explicit style is ever present. The description of a rather nasty bit of torture directed toward Rapp’s CIA instructor (Stan Hurley) is so bizarre it is actually funny.
What is disturbing about this story is the specter that the stuff in this book really happens. Imagine a world with rich drug and gun running thugs who, while hiding under a religious zealot veil, enjoy blowing up innocent civilians, selling arms to both sides and kidnapping for ransom. How do you stop them? You send Mitch Rapp to Istanbul to kill the arms dealer who sold the explosives used to blow up Pan Am 103. You send Rapp to Hamburg to kill the banker who launders money for these same dirt bags. You send Rapp, a man who does not exist, a man without any real identity, a man who is just plain deadly, and the next day you can read in the paper that another body with ties to terrorism has been found. Problem solved.
As a fan of the Rapp stories and the author I enjoyed this book. Having read about 5 of these Rapp novels, this book provides a good back story as to all of the players, their motivation, etcetera. If you are looking for a book of this genre – a story about government anti-terrorist and the hard reality of dealing with these criminals – this is a good read. Enjoy!