Courtesy of vinceflynn.com

Vince Flynn’s new novel “Kill Shot” is the 11th in a series of espionage thrillers, going back to the 90s, based around the character of Mitch Rapp.

The book is a look back into the story of the assassin; how he was recruited into the CIA and how the once-rocky relationship between him and his handlers evolved into the one Flynn’s readers are now familiar with.

Flynn said in a recent interview that he had already been planning on taking readers back into Flynn’s past, but relatively new talks of a movie deal seem to be another reason why the time was ripe to make Rapp younger.

After years of these talks going nowhere, 2011 released the first prequel to the Mitch Rapp novels: “American Assassin.”

This book seemed to jumpstart the movie deal and CBS Films quickly decided to change the film adaptation from an earlier book to the prequel.

After a couple of years of rumors floating around regarding Gerard Butler, Bruce Willis (neither bad decisions) and others, the studio now had a reason to look into younger actors, and the prequels all began to make sense.

A year after the release of “American Assassin,” Flynn released “Kill Shot,” an entirely different take on the Rapp franchise.

The first nine novels in the series served as shoot-‘em-ups; Mitch Rapp was Jack Bauer before there was a Jack Bauer.

While “American Assassin” began to dive deeper into the relationships between the main players in the CIA that defines the organization, “Kill Shot” goes even further.

It branches away from the usual setting and plot of a Rapp novel in that the conflict is entirely internal within the CIA.

Rapp is set up during a hit job near the beginning of the story and spends the rest of the book trying to figure out who is responsible.

As he is in Paris for the job, he quickly melts into the population and the rest of the book is based around both friends and enemies trying to rein him in.

Although the story line is deep and entertaining, I couldn’t help but a notice an increased amount of childish bravado involved in the dialogue.

I understand that a macho vibe can be expected in stories revolving around men that kill for a living and rely on brute strength to survive.

I am not simply some tree hugger reviewing a book about CIA assassins; I have read every one of these books and look forward to the next.

That being said, “Kill Shot” steps it up with the childlike name-calling between newly minted members of the CIA’s killing team.

As I began to notice this it turned me off, but I soon became aware that it was probably purposeful and actually works quite well.

Most of this odd attitude (I kill because I like to kill and it doesn’t matter who I kill) comes from the story’s antagonist, another recruit that came up at the same time as Rapp. That sort of character building can be expected.

Rapp and other characters also showed signs of being unreasonable, but it’s important to realize that this is a prequel.

These are the characters before they were hardened to the realities of their jobs. It’s also a team that hasn’t been fully trained, and the rogue, trigger happy murderers haven’t been weeded out.

Flynn was diagnosed with stage III metastic prostate cancer in November of 2010 and dedicated “Kill Shot” to his team of doctors.

There isn’t any obvious change in writing due to his facing a deadly illness, but it does seem that Rapp is a bit more concerned with living life than in other books.

Rapp has a love interest for the first time since the earlier books, and more than once he contemplates leaving his life of killing behind and trying a real life with his new girlfriend.

This could be a reflection of Flynn contemplating resting a bit after more than a decade of constant writing and book tours, but I see that as doubtful.

Judging from interviews with Flynn, he seems as energetic and ready to continue writing as ever. He has said that he plans to return to the present day for his next Rapp novel.

It’s more conceivable that Rapp’s doubts can once again be chalked up to the fact that it’s a prequel.

Any reader of Flynn’s other novels can tell you that Rapp wouldn’t be naive enough to think he could leave the CIA and live a normal life later on.

Yet in this book, Rapp wouldn’t think twice about not only leaving the CIA, but killing any superior involved if he felt he was put in danger.

Yet, as any Rapp fan knew already, he was going to make it all along.

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