- Audio Download
- Listening Length: 11 hours and 43 minutes
- Program Type: Audiobook
- Version: Unabridged
- Publisher: Simon & Schuster Audio
- Audible.co.uk Release Date: 12 Oct. 2010
- Language: English
- ASIN: B005OZCTX2
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...it's okay. I like spy thrillers, I love stories about assassins, and this scratches that itch. The cast is entertaining, and there are some genuinely funny moments. But while reading I found that I was rolling my eyes every chapter or so. Mitch Rapp is some kind of superman drawn straight from the schoolboy fantasies of an unimaginative kid. The first half of the book is basically his selection process for the CIA's programme, and within the first few pages he had beaten the old, grizzled, Company man in close quarters combat. He correctly judges every trick and challenge his instructors put before him, and the perspective promptly shifts to those instructors who, without fail, spell out exactly how impressed they are. The few skills he doesn't know to a professional level he learns offscreen, or in a summary, and by midway through the book he is already this super assassin with an outspoken desire to kill terrorists.
That's the other aspect of this book that makes me groan inwardly, is the completely lack of moral greyness to the characters and countries depicted. The Americans are the Good Guys, and everyone else are the Baddies. Whenever we see inside the heads of the villains, they are without fail selfish, greedy, sadistic people who hate Freedom and Apple Pie. One of Rapp's targets (slight spoiler here) is not only a fund manager for terrorists, but also a Nazi! The villains are one dimensional straw-men.
Rapp and the other CIA guys often acknowledge that they do terrible, awful things, but then brush it off as necessary and "not as bad as what the other guys do". The characters who might find extra-judicial killings in other sovereign countries to be perhaps a little immoral are dismissed by the other characters in many colourful ways. It was so over the top and shallow that I expected the hypocrisy to become a key theme of the book... but it isn't. The author plays it straight from beginning to end, and it almost comes across as childish devotion to the "Evil Terrorist" trope.
It's fun, but its so black-and-white that I wouldn't be surprised to learn that the real CIA had commissioned this for recruitment purposes.
To meet you at your coming;
It stirs up the dead for you,
All the chief ones of the earth;
It has raised up from their thrones
All the kings of the nations." -- Isaiah 14:9 (NKJV)
Do you like "thrillers" to be continually exciting? I do. Publishers sometimes miss that point when they label the latest offering from a writer who often produces thrillers as a thriller . . . without thoroughly considering its contents. Before I read Kill Shot, I wouldn't have imagined that a novel about Mitch Rapp could be anything but thrilling. But I was wrong. There are a few thrilling moments in Kill Shot, but they are definitely the exception against the backdrop of a slow-paced novel with two creaky plot lines.
If you want action by Mitch Rapp, you won't get much here.
So what's it all about? Mitch is still in his early years at the CIA working on removing those who contributed to the Lockerbie bombing. He's sent to Paris to make a high-profile hit that should present few problems. But he runs into enough difficulties to test even his mettle. From there, the story draws back to consider what went wrong from the perspective of how the CIA will respond and from Mitch's perspective in wanting to find out who put him and his mission at risk. Most of the plot development relates about solving misunderstandings, miscommunications, and dealing with old scores. As such, from that point most of the book feels a bit more like George Smiley than Mitch Rapp.
Even if you are a dyed-in-the-wool Mitch Rapp fan, you could probably skip this novel and not miss much concerning your understanding of the character.
I sure hope the next novel in this series will be a lot better.
Mitch Rapp is a preternaturally mature 23 year old, preppy sports prodigy (the finest lacrosse player of his generation!!) whose tragic history includes a girlfriend/soulmate who is killed in the Locherbie bombing. He's burying that anger and using it as a driving force. Oh yes indeed.
Vowing revenge on “the bad guys”, he somehow (it’s never made very clear) gets the attention of the CIA and is fast tracked onto their black ops programme. Here he defeats his ornery old mentor within 30 minutes of arriving at base camp, sorts out their antiquated training regime and comes top of the class ( ahead of all the other special forces veterans in attendance). From here, he cuts his teeth in the dark arts of assassination by taking out various arms dealers and corrupt bankers before moving to third base and sorting out a cohort of ”bad guys” in Beirut.
The book is a strange amalgam of middling research (it includes a very apt description of Istanbul), woeful stereotyping (drunk Russians, greasy arabs, tiny tin can European cars) and utterly bland characterisation. Mitch Rapp has near Jack Reacher levels of invulnerability (actually that’s an insult to Reacher who at least displays some modicum of personality, particularly in the more recent publications). It's hard to root for him though as he comes across as a humourless sociopath, hell bent on revenge. His simplified geopolitics of the Lebanese Civil war is a critique for another day.
It's all about as subtle as a brick and manages to make "I Am Pilgrim" look profound. I didn't realise that there was a whole series of existing Mitch Rapp books and Vince Flynn wrote this in 2010 as a backstory. Kind of like Jack Reacher's Night School, but without the literary talent.
I would sum it up as a right wing Wish Fulfillment fantasy where everything can be resolved by assassination and violence. But can you really expect nuance from an Army reject and former estate agent who wrote the screenplay for “24”?