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Not a Knockout but Still Good
on November 13, 2012
A little over ten years ago, I was given a book by a coworker. He said, "This is way better than Tom Clancy." I was offended, not because I knew Clancy, but because I knew of him as an author that wrote great narrative blended with incredibly accurate, action-packed stories. My coworker was right. Vince Flynn is an excellent author. He has created a main character who is not afraid to have an opinion or take a stand. Flynn's series of books can be read in any order, and it's nothing short of a treat to discover the background of his characters when reading chronologically earlier titles.
Vince Flynn has written another title, The Last Man, which is as eerily prescient as his earlier Memorial Day. As I began to read the advanced copy from Atria Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint, the news of an actual terrorist strike on the US Embassy in Libya hit the front page of every news site and newspaper.
Flynn's uncanny timing unfolds with his go-to main character, Mitch Rapp, as he is called on to rescue a missing CIA agent from a safe house in Afghanistan. While not exactly what was unveiled in actual world events, the author does capture the very real world of secret operatives working off the radar in hostile territories. Irene Kennedy, the only person able to reign in Rapp's destructive prowess, leaves the safety of her office to aid in the rescue mission. Mitch Rapp and his elite crew strike out to retrieve their target from the hands of the bad guys, while elements within the US and Afghan governments attempt to foil his efforts out of a need to hide their nefarious purposes.
Perhaps the idea is not entirely past its prime, but the idea of a kidnapped, US government official being rescued from terrorists is not a new theme in the recent fiction and non-fiction genres. Maybe this is bad timing on the part of the publisher, but the non-fiction No Easy Day, released a month ago contains the basic elements of The Last Man. David Crouch's fictional Act of Valor also has the same basic premise. If Vince Flynn was not the author, I wouldn't have read the book. Overall, I'm glad I did. It was enjoyable, but it's a title I wouldn't choose to read a second time.
The characters are believable, high-strung and thuggish, but believable. Flynn is also a master at retaining the basic humanity of his main character. Although Mitch Rapp is a Rambo-like tactical genius, he is still very much human. He can be hurt. His friends can be hurt. Few elements in the story are predictable, taking turns when least expected.
However, it struck me that the last few novels by the author don't contain the same edgy pace of previous books. The imagery is not as vivid, nor is the dialogue. And the basic story line has been done. The language is certainly military-grade, rough, tough and full of zingers, but strangely, it didn't really enhance the action as I expected.
I recommend the story for fans of the genre and of the author. I would also recommend this book if you want a good read where you know the good guy will win.
This story is definitely high quality when compared to other writers in the genre. Only when comparing Vince Flynn to himself do I find certain elements lacking. This is an excellent story, but it is not the best Mitch Rapp novel on my shelf.