Vince Flynn Reviews Rules of Vengeance
Vince Flynn is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nine previous thrillers, including Consent to Kill, Act of Treason, and Protect and Defend. He lives in the Twin Cities with his wife and three children. Read his guest review of Christopher Reich's Rules of Vengeance:
Last summer, before I picked up Christopher Reich’s Rules of Deception, I’d heard it was the kind of smart, high-octane international thriller that would take me back to tales of espionage and political intrigue written by the masters—like Frederick Forsyth, Ken Follett, and Robert Ludlum. Those books were propulsive mixes of fact and fiction, set in a combustible, all-too-real world where peace balanced on a razor’s edge and nuclear annihilation was a single bullet away. The best of them, like Forsyth’s The Fourth Protocol and Ludlum’s The Bourne Identity, left you wondering if they might, in fact, be true. Might something like this really happen?
Then came the 1990’s. The Iron Curtain fell. Russia imploded. And Japan suffered a severe economic crisis. The world was left with America as its sole superpower. The bomb had been defused. We felt safe. And so ended the domination of international espionage blockbusters on the bestseller lists.
Along came Rules of Deception. Was it really a return to the big blockbuster of the 70’s and 80’s? Critics certainly were embracing it with gusto. So it was with some excitement and no small amount of skepticism that I picked up the book. The story started like a rocket and picked up speed from there. By page 20, I knew the critics had gotten it right. Rules of Deception was the very definition of a blockbuster: a lone, intrepid hero battling immense odds to save the world from a cataclysmic battle while also regaining the love of a fallen woman.
Now, Reich gives us Rules of Vengeance. Sequels are rarely as good as the original, so again, I was skeptical. And yet, Rules of Vengeance turns out to be that rare exception—where the novel not only stands up to its predecessor, but actually takes the story and characters in new—and completely surprising—directions. Again we meet Dr. Jonathan Ransom, a surgeon for Doctors Without Borders. The story begins with his arrival in London to deliver an address at a prestigious international medical conference, and it takes off from there at mach speed, offering more twists than the Monaco Grand Prix. I’m not going to give away any of the unexpected plot turns (and there are many), but I will say that once again, Ransom quickly finds himself in trouble not of his own making. And, once again, he is forced to maneuver between the good guys and the bad guys in order to figure out just what he’s been pulled into, and then make sure that no one else suffers because of it. The stakes are sky high. The locales are exotic. The plot is ripped from tomorrow’s headlines and Reich controls the story with a deft hand from beginning to end.
What’s particularly appealing about Jonathan Ransom is he is not a spy or a trained assassin. He is, in fact, the opposite: a doctor who has devoted his life to helping others—a loner working outside political boundaries who exemplifies the best in us all. But like each of us, he has a dark side that is both frightening and compelling. You do not want to make this man angry.
As for Christopher Reich, he—like Ransom—also may not be a trained spy or assassin (at least not to the best of my knowledge). But he certainly does manipulate the twists, summon the adrenaline, and create a landscape of thrills that can only leave readers with one lasting impression: Chris Reich is the real deal. —Vince Flynn
(Photo © Peter Hurley)
From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Near the start of bestseller Reich's stellar sequel to Rules of Deception, Dr. Jonathan Ransom flies from Africa to London for a medical conference. That same day, intermediaries arrange for him to meet his fugitive wife, Emma, once a secret agent with the Pentagon group known as Division, in a cheap hotel. The next day, Jonathan's world is literally and figuratively torn apart after a large car bomb explodes in Westminster, seriously injuring the Russian interior minister. Jonathan is sure Emma is behind the car bombing, but the police, led by Det. Chief Insp. Kate Ford, think Jonathan is responsible. Thus begins a convoluted chase—Jonathan hunting his wife, Kate and the cops along with MI5 agent Colonel Graves tracking Jonathan. Everyone, including the reader, remains clueless, except for master spy Emma, as to who is really the guilty party. A blinding twist at the end adds a spectacular fillip to a masterful performance by one of the genre's elite. (Aug.)
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