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If Vince Told Us Once, He Told Us A Thousand Times
on November 25, 2005
Vince Flynn's massive popularity is completely justified. He's crafted some explosive and unapologetically red-white-and-blue coated patriotic nail-biting adventure stories. Recurring main character Mitch Rapp is one compelling dude - equal parts skilled tactician and modern warrior. "Separation of Power" has those elements, but takes time to build up steam. A LOT of time.
The basic storyline is as follows (don't worry, no spoilers):
1) Rapp continues the hunt to find those responsible for an attempt on his life;
2) An Iraqi nuclear program plot is fed to the CIA by Israeli intelligence and must be dealt with;
3) Rapp's in love and feeling much angst about his relationship problems.
To coin a phrase from Sesame Street: Which one is not like the others? Is the fact that a skilled assassin has diffictulty seeing eye-to-eye with a female TV reporter necessarily a problem? It didn't have to be, but Flynn examined Rapp's relationship with Anna Rielly by running through the same dysfunctional issues (they come from different worlds, they have different views, Mitch can't tell Anna absolutely everything about what he does, blah-blah-blah) on every plane ride, limo ride, walk through the park, and hot bubble bath in the book. And then Flynn looks at it from Anna's point of view. Flynn washes, rinses, and repeats. And repeats... Though relationship issues for government hired guns may be completely realistic, one ponderous self-examination would have been enough to drive the characters. And in all honesty, the intraspection sessions aren't very enlightening or interesting. There are other authors who do it much better, and that's probably not why you read Flynn's novels in the first place.
One reads Flynn's novels for the politics and the action. Whereas "Transfer of Power" skillfully balanced the behind-the-scenes politicing and decision making with the butt-kicking, this novel's bulk is devoted to back-door dealing in Washington DC. Again, the details seem to be repeated ad nauseum and could have been contracted neatly without almost chapterly recaps that retell the story from the various viewpoints of everyone involved.
After the 18th review of the Mitch/Anna relationship saga and the 27th version of the plot against Irene Kennedy, I found myself skipping pages looking for more "meat" and I'm pretty sure I didn't miss much. The exciting payoff doesn't begin until the last 20-30% of the book. It's a wonder so many stuck around for so long.
In short, Vince Flynn's done better work on both sides of this series. Here's my recommendation: Take a gander at my brief plot outline then skip to about page 300. You'll save time and still have all the fun "Separation of Power" has to offer.