The “Mitch Rapp” series , written by Vince Flynn, is a set of thrillers starring the eponymous ‘Mitch Rapp’. There are 16 books in this series. Thirteen of them are written by Vince Flynn; after his death, Kyle Mills has taken over. This review focuses only on the original thirteen books by Vince Flynn.
I found this series serendipitiously. I was looking at a review of the new movie ‘American Assassin’ where I got to know that this was based off a book series. The character and the story line seemed similar to Jack Reacher (another series which is my guilty pleasure) and thus I got hooked on to Mitch Rapp.
Mitch Rapp is a counter-terrorist agent working for the CIA whose girlfriend gets killed in the Lockerbie explosion. Hence he is driven towards hunting down terrorists and others who prey on the innocent. His specialty is Islamic terrorism and he spends his life uncovering plots, assassinating terrorists and their sponsors and visiting mayhem on the Middle East predominantly. Think of Mitch Rapp as Jason Bourne on steroids except without the whining.
Now, mixing a topic like Islamic Terrorism with an alpha male american character like Mitch Rapp might make you think that these books are going to be one-dimensional where a white man decimates brown skins. Thankfully, there is a lot more subtlety and complexity that elevates this series above the common pulp. This is true, especially in the later half of the series where the motivations of the characters are not black and white.
I thoroughly enjoyed the series and would give a strong recommend to readers interested in this genre.
I have mentioned before that I am a sucker for the strong and silent type alpha male thriller genre. My childhood was spent reading Alistair MacLean, Jack Higgins, Frederick Forsyth, Robert Ludlum etc. When I started re-reading this genre, I naturally gravitated back to books with similar characteristics as before. Jack Reacher and Bob Lee Swagger are the ones I have read in the recent past. With that said, it is difficult to find good books in this genre today. So I was extremely happy to find Mitch Rapp and his surly self.
This series is riveting. I ended up binge-reading (is that even a word?) the thirteen books over the weekend. The reasons being the fast pace of the books (events usually occur over a course of 2-3 days), good action sequences, a great main characters, brilliant supporting characters and, best of all, conciseness. I also found that the research done for these books is quite decent. The discerning reader will notice the increasing quality and attention to detail as the chronology of the books increases.
Unlike Robert Ludlum or Tom Clancy (for example), Vince Flynn does not subject his readers to verbal diarrhoea in his books. What a Ludlum/Clancy takes 1500 pages to describe, Vince Flynn does in 300-400 pages. This makes it easy for readers to get into the story and easily engaged. I have seen Clancy books where he describes a tank for 10 pages with almost masturbatory glee. Thank Dawkins, this does not occur in this series.
The standard template that is followed is – crisis -> call Mitch -> external threat – > internal politics -> team work -> ass kicking -> bad guys in jail or dead -> hurrah! .
The books in the series are almost of the same quality with maybe a couple of outliers. The story-lines (while following a standard template) are varied enough to be interesting. In addition, there are mini story arcs that connect 2-3 books together, which contribute to the largeness of the world of Mitch Rapp.
While the first half of the series focuses on Mitch Rapp, the latter books give us a sense that while Rapp is central to the story, there is this larger organization (CIA) and other characters which are interesting. An analogy to explain this is that the series progresses from being a James Bond/Jason Bourne kind of action thriller (one man demolition army) to a more Mission Impossible kind of thriller (a central point man supported with a team). I think kind of progression makes the series feel more organic and believable.
This series is right up there with other best sellers in the genre. Due to Vince Flynn’s tragic demise, the original set of thirteen novels is all we are left with. I have heard that Kyle Mills has done a decent job of following in his footsteps. But I cannot comment on Kyle Mills version of Mitch Rapp since I have not read or have any intention of reading his books,
Read the first thirteen books if you love thrillers.
Also published on Medium.