Publication Date: February 7, 2012
Transfer of Power is the sequel to the prequel, Kill Shot: American Assassin Thriller by Vince Flynn. A very young Mitch Rapp is working his way through a list of targets when he is ambushed in a hotel in Paris. Rapp is shot and must escape. He is surprised to learn that the body total involves dead civilians which cause quite the ruckus with his handler and superiors as they assume Rapp is responsible for deviating from the plan. Rapp has people working against him behind the scenes that want him neutralized, and this is as good an excuse as any. Rapp must prove his innocence in the civilian deaths while making sure that the colleague bent on killing him doesn’t find him first.
I read my first Mitch Rapp novel, Transfer of Power (1999) four or five years ago. It was brilliant; it was perfect and I was in love. I went into following books with happy, rose-colored, glasses knowing that if subsequent books were a fraction as good as the first (usually the weakest in a series), I was in for a treat — and for the most part, I was. Mostly.
I’m not a reader who believes that only men can write men well, and only women can write women well, but that belief has been strongly tested by Mr. Flynn. His women are stupid. Yes. I hate to be that blunt, but they are. They are in a state of perpetual PMS and maybe that’s how you are when you’re with a spy — or working around a spy — or maybe Rapp’s super hotness and superhero-like powers strike them all swoony and dumb, but there it is. The respect I had for Mitch started to wane with the first relationship we saw in the second book of the series. Rapp, this security-conscious guy, gets himself involved with an extremely reckless woman? The kind of woman who sits in a café and yells, “OH MY GOD, YOU’RE A SPY!” Seriously?
In Kill Shot: An American Assassin Thriller we have Greta who is inhumanly beautiful. Men stop and stare … and if they stare too long Greta will “go nuclear on them.” Honestly, if you’re good-looking and these ogling beasts aren’t approaching you, is a woman really going to demand to know who they think they are that they would dare stare at such a goddess? I also must mention that much of their dialogue is very soap operatic and by that I mean over the top dramatic (tears glisten in her eyes as she expresses her love and concern for his possible, imminent death). Hurley, who trained Rapp, warns him to never fall in love; so you know it’s going to happen, and you know that’s going to be pretty much all Greta and Mitch talk about when together.
Many authors who write spies, assassins, etc. will give us characters that don’t stand out. They could be the slightly balding ex-cop who lives two doors down from us that we barely notice from day-to-day. Not so, Mitch. Mitch is tall, powerful, good-looking with dense, dark hair. Totally a guy you wouldn’t notice if he were trailing you — and who you wouldn’t wish was trailing you. Not to mention, you know the first thing you do when ambushed, shot and on the run. Once you pull yourself out of the Seine after a two-hour float, you call your girlfriend and have her meet you 24 hours later at the place from which you called her.
Mitch is 25 in this outing and from page one we know he’s a loose cannon. He has a list and he’s killing off of it. Things are going well, but his directive is to surprise his target. Not Mitch, he wants them to know he’s coming. Seriously? You want the person you’re going to kill to have advance warning and then you’re surprised when ambushed? Do you expect him to just be in bed with a prostitute without having made any plans to protect himself? The surprise to me, as a reader, was that the target didn’t have those guys in place. Another agency, which had the list (which Mitch is inexplicably doing in order), was able to get the team in place to attempt to neutralize the guy knocking off all of their top leaders. They were not so lucky because little did they know they were dealing with Superman’s little brother, Mitch Rapp.
The back characters are weak. There is past history all around. Irene Kennedy and Greta are like nieces to Hurley (Rapp’s nemesis) and Hurley and Irene’s boss at Langley (she’s also infatuated with Rapp — because who wouldn’t be.) The representative of the French international police (male) and the local Paris cop (female) have an unnecessary sexual history that he later uses to try to blackmail her into dropping the case. The last standing killer has great promise, but he’s never really picked up again though he stays in Paris despite the advice of his bosses. I think Flynn’s novel would have been better served with fewer characters and with a better purpose in the storyline. For instance, Bernstein and Jones appear in the novel for a hot minute — long enough for us to know that despite being spies for 17 years, they have no awareness of their surroundings. Why do we need them at this particular point in the series?
I must also point out that when Rapp fails to check in at his appointed time it’s assumed he went rogue. Can there be no other explanation for an assassin who doesn’t call at 9 p.m. when he says he’ll call at 9 p.m. (or whatever time)? Hurley automatically goes to the “we should have killed him; I’m right, you’re wrong; he should die.” Given that there are four dead paramilitary types isn’t it, at least, a little logical that something went bad?
“This is fiction! Cut it some slack!” you’re saying to me. Yes, it was overall an okayish read (those of us know that the “mmm kay” is a step lower than the okay). This will be logged as my least favorite of all the Rapp novels. Would I recommend this sequel to a prequel? No. I would suggest cutting this one out of your Rapp reading and only going back to it if you feel it essential to your reading flow. I so loved not liking Kill Shot: An American Assassin Thriller though so if you’re into that, this may be a good one.
I caution my readers to understand that this is my opinion and maybe not one widely shared as this novel debuted at #1 on the New York Times Bestseller List March 2, 2012.
Read an excerpt and buy Kill Shot: An American Assassin Thriller by Vince Flynn on