Friday, January 25, 2013

Book Review : Vince Flynn - Kill Shot (2012)


Country: USA

Genre: Thriller

Pages: 436

Order KILL SHOT here


The cold, detached killers were easier to predict. Rapp, though, was far from dispassionate about his job. He couldn't kill these men fast enough. It was his hatred for terrorists that drove him to kill with such efficiency. How would he react if he was pulled in and shut down? Not well, was Stansfield guess. How would he react if he found out someone at Langley was selling their secrets to their enemies? By definition, that individual would be a traitor and Stansfield has little doubt what Rapp would do to such a person.

I'm still unsure about how this arrived on my bookshelf. Somebody wanted me to read Vince Flynn before I die. For the blissfully ignorant, Flynn has penned a dozen novels about a CIA counter-terrorism agent Mitch Rapp. He is a man who loves his job and loves his country, more than people can fathom. KILL SHOT is the twelfth Rapp book (or something like that), but it's the second in chronological order. Somewhere into his series development, Flynn felt the need to revisit the origins and mythology of his iconic character. Unfortunately, this novel seems to have let down both long time fans of the Rapp novels and people like me, who had no business reading those in the first place. I'll try not to be too judgmental, but I finished my reading appalled that this gets major distribution and even worse, major sales.

Mitch Rapp is on a mission to kill terrorists. His latest target is Lybia's Oil Minister, which seems to be just another day at work for the operative. But the mission is crashed upon by unwanted guests, other terrorists who had planned to kill Rapp. They miss their objective and Rapp escapes, but he's shot in the shoulder at the last second. Angry and wounded, he knows that someone tipped off  "the assholes", as he calls them, about his hit, so he vanishes in beautiful Paris, France to start his own investigation. Meanwhile in Langley, Virginia, Rapp's handlers are wondering why he ghosted out and can't believe he left such a mess of what was supposed to be a clean hit. There are nine bodies at the hotel where Lybia's Oil Minister was supposed to be. Rapp only shot five of them, but since he disappeared, he's labeled as a liability and his employer is starting to turn against him.

My difference with Vince Flynn are mainly political, so I made every possible effort to mend fence. Beliefs shouldn't get in the way of great art and especially not in the way of its appreciation. But it was difficult, for that Flynn micromanages his political message to an astounding degree. None of the non-American characters have any redeeming traits. The Arabic people are all terrorists or sympathizers. I expected that, but those characters are one trick ponies. They are only indoctrinated, angry and hateful. Couldn't they have been afraid too? Explain why they would fear the U.S? The irony is that it's a bit indoctrinated, angry and hateful to represent other systems of beliefs like that. Don't get me started on his portrayal of the French as a bunch of slimy, jealous bastards who don't have control over their destiny. I've never before read a novel that required such complete belief in something to even appreciate. I'm Canadian and am slightly-yet-responsible leftist, could have I really cheered for a government paid homicidal, xenophobic maniac?

Rapp pulled the door towar him and swung it flat against the side of the building. He placed his free hand on the seam of the blackout curtains and pushed through in a low crouch, his pistol up and sweeping from left to right. It was six steps from the balcony to where his target was sleeping. The bed was up so high that the platform had a step that wrapped around three sides. A massive, gaudy mirror served as a headboard. The elevation put the target at waist height for the six-foot-one Rapp. With the tip of his silences only four feet from the Lybian's head, Rapp stole a quick glance in hopes that he could locate the prostitute. The best he could do was get a sense that she was somewhere on the other side, buried under a jumble of pillows and blankets. He would never shoot her, but he might have to pistol-whip her in the event she woke up and started screaming.

There are other issues with the novel that I could see disappointing the long time fans. There are way too many characters and many fronts of actions and it handicaps the pace. The Rapp scenes should have been fast and furious, but there is a weird, useless love story slowing half of them down. This book could have been leaner and more efficient. Also, it doesn't have a sense of humor about itself. As I quoted about, there is kind of a grotesque and funny aspect to pistol-whipping a prostitute during a CIA hit, but Flynn doesn't capitalize on this absurd image, because he takes what he does way too seriously. Instead, he just keeps hitting the same notes over and over again, over four hundred pages.

KILL SHOT has its moments, as short as they were. Vince Flynn can write an action scene better than most (and good action scenes are rare). He has a tremendous sense of pacing and understands the need for these scenes to be fluid, which is even more infuriating because he doesn't pull the trigger most times. KILL SHOT made me understand why Vince Flynn has fans, but its radical stance, shallow emotional range and its swollen plotting angered me more than anything. His apologists will say that the terrorists are just a boogeyman and that the important is that Rapp is kicking ass and to that I will answer that boogeymen are boring and that great antagonists are as interesting as great protagonists. I'm done with Vince Flynn and will leave him to his target audience, the people who found him profoundly moving as a guest on his BFF Glenn Beck's show.

TWO STARS

2 comments:

  1. WOW, two-stars reviews are rare around here, so I have more than a hunch I won't give this a try. Picture is good though, I wished I'd shot something like that when I was in Paris. Next time maybe.
    Now yeah, I also wonder how this landed on your bookshelf...

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  2. Someone at Simon & Schuster thought it was up my alley I suppose. I should rewrite the Review Policy text :)

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