Saturday, October 30, 2010

The Missing Link

Reviewed by Tracy L. Karol 

After the last Flynn novel, I wondered where he would take us on our journey with Mitch Rapp. Our hero has weathered devastating heartbreak, betrayals, corrupt (and/or stupid politicians), more danger than any James Bond character, and has barely managed to keep his soul intact. I find it a great testament to Mr. Flynn's writing and creativity that he has penned a character who has evolved so much. Yet there was always something missing. We knew from previous books that Rapp had been recruited to join the CIA, but his early years with the agency remained a mystery. In fact, just before I started reading this book someone who wanted to start the series asked me if he needed to start at the beginning or if he could pick up anywhere and understand the books. I hesitated to answer, but after reading "American Assassin" I can fully endorse starting with the latest release. 

Obviously Flynn gives enough background material in each book that a new reader can enjoy the novel, but I'm personally glad that I actually read "Term Limits" years ago when it was first released, then read the rest of the books as they were published. Yes, it was agony waiting for each to come out, but they were all well worth the wait. That said, "American Assassin" is one book that anyone can actually start reading now and then go back and read the other books in the series ("Term Limits" is probably optional, but still a great read). It goes back in time and describes a young Mitch Rapp, just graduated from college, recruited by Dr. Irene Kennedy to join a super-secret black ops program to fight terrorism. 

Not only was the book fascinating, it was wonderful to take a peek at the lives of other major characters in the series, some who are no longer around. In fact, I enjoyed it so much that I quickly read "Transfer of Power" again and am now reading "The Third Option." So I would say if you've never read Vince Flynn but have wanted to try out his series, "American Assassin" is a great place to start. While it's the latest book, it goes back in time so you don't miss anything from the later books, and if you love a good thriller, you'll have a plethora waiting for you to read once you finish it. And trust me, Flynn knows of what he writes. When I check out the copyright date on these older novels, it's clear that Flynn had a firm grasp on the threat our country was facing from Islamic extremists, prior to 9/11. He has been spot-on ever since. I highly recommend all of his novels, not only for their entertainment value, but because they are actually educational as well. 

A few times I have been lucky enough to stumble upon an author who has already produced a body of work that is fantastic, and after reading one novel I tear through all the other published titles (this happened with Robert Crais and Nelson DeMille). If you haven't started reading Flynn, this is your chance. I'm now on my third go-round with some of these books; that's how much I enjoy them. 

Happy reading!