Four Letter Nerd

4LN Book Review: Vince Flynn’s The Survivor, by Kyle Mills

Vince Flynn’s “Mitch Rapp” series has been one of the best political thriller series since the late 1990’s.  I have started several other series in the same genre, but only Flynn’s work has kept me coming back for every outing.  From 1999 to 2012, Flynn pretty much released a Rapp book a year, with “The Survivor” originally slated to be released in 2013. Sadly, Flynn passed away in June of 2013 after a two year fight with cancer leaving the future of the series in a state of uncertainty.

In June of 2014, Flynn’s estate, along with Emily Bestler, Senior VP and Editor-in-Chief of Emily Bestler Books, announced that they would be continuing the Mitch Rapp series with New York Times Bestselling Author Kyle Mills, who they signed to a three book deal.  (It also probably helped that Mills already did the whole “writing in the style of another author” thing by writing books eight and ten of Robert Ludlum’s “Covert-One” series.)

“I’m really honored to have been asked to continue the Mitch Rapp series,” Mills said, “Vince was a great guy who helped me out in my career and as a die-hard Rapp fan, I know how devastated his readers are. They’re big shoes to fill, but I’m looking forward to the challenge of continuing an iconic thriller character.”

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Summary from VinceFlynn.com:

Top secret data has been stolen from the CIA, and the only man who knows its hiding place is dead. CIA operative Mitch Rapp must race to find the
classified information in this blistering novel that picks up where The Last
Man left off in Vince Flynn’s New York Times bestselling series.

Joseph “Rick” Rickman, former boy wonder at the CIA, stole a massive amount of top secret and hugely compromising intel concerning classified operations all over the world, offering it (and himself) to the Pakistani secret forces. Only his plans went awry when CIA director Irene Kennedy sent Mitch Rapp to hunt him down. It turns out that killing Rickman didn’t solve anything-in fact, the nightmare is only intensifying. Rickman stored the potentially devastating data (CIA assets, operatives, agents) somewhere only he knew, and somehow, from beyond the grave, he still poses a mortal threat to America.

Now it’s a deadly race as both the Pakistanis and the Americans search for Rickman’s accomplices and the information they are slowly leaking to the world. Will Rapp outrun and out-think his enemies, or will the Pakistanis find it first and hold America hostage to their dream of becoming the world’s new nuclear superpower?

Before getting into the actual review let’s take a look at the protagonist of the series – Mitch Rapp.  Rapp is the CIA’s no-holds-barred, apex counter-terrorism operative. Called the “Angel of Death” in the Middle East due to his penchant for surviving impossible scenarios and ruthlessly dealing with those that would visit harm on the United States, he has foiled plans to level DC with a nuclear bomb, encountered betrayal by corrupt political leaders, and survived events that might even make Jack Bauer a little hesitant. In Flynn’s 1999 thriller “Transfer of Power,” Rapp’s task is to rescue the president and several other hostages from terrorists that have overrun the White House.  Flynn did a great job defining the character, leaving Mills the enormous task of carrying on that legacy.

Like most Rapp fans, I was definitely a little nervous when I heard another author was being brought in to finish up the series, but I can tell you with full confidence that Kyle Mills knocks it out of the park. The recently deceased antagonist has unleashed a scheme that is one part “the Riddler” and one part Mission: Impossible’s NOC list.  The whole thing leads to a white-knuckle race against time as Rapp rushes to stop both the downfall of the CIA at the hands of Pakistani’s ISI, and the possible assassination of a world leader. It had everything you’d expect from a Mitch Rapp novel, and is painstakingly written in a style that fans of Vince Flynn will find familiar.  After reading “The Survivor” I can’t think of a better writer to close out this series, and I am looking forward to reading Mills next foray into Flynn’s world

After signing on, Mill’s first task was to complete “The Survivor,” which only had a chapter or so written at the time of Flynn’s death. To prepare for the mammoth task of staying true to Flynn’s vision with the series, Mills went back and reread each entry in chronological order and took upwards of 140 pages of notes “on everything from Mitch’s personality and history to the locks on Irene Kennedy’s front door.”  He really did his homework and I am happy to say that this attention to detail shows immensely in the finished product and his in-depth note-taking pays off in the best way, as the characterizations are spot on and the story is just topnotch.

“The Survivor” will hit the shelves on October 6, 2015, if you are in anyway a fan of Vince Flynn’s previous works make sure to head to your local bookstore and get yourself a copy. You won’t regret it.

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Cam Clark

Cam is a husband, father, and a fan of many things. In college, he wrote his senior thesis on Mythological, Philosophical, and Theological Themes in Star Wars, and now spends his days causally specializing in Star Wars, Tolkien, and cubical work. No relation to Bill Clark.

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