"Because I believe there are good guys and bad guys."
So explains a wealthy benefactor to American covert operative Mitch Rapp in Vince Flynn's latest blockbuster, American Assassin.
That not only serves as a good enough summary theme for all of Flynn's novels but also is the moral foundation for one of our other finest thriller writers: Michael Connelly. Like Winston Churchill, neither Flynn nor Connelly finds any moral equivalence between the arsonist and the fireman.
There is no hotter thriller writer than Flynn, one of the few writers of action yarns to understand exactly what American readers want post-9/11. Not nuance, not "Why do they hate us?" thumbsucking. Just kicking jihadist butt.
Actually, half the thrill of a Flynn novel is watching Mitch Rapp knock the heads together of liberal and timid PC politicians and bureaucrats who are foolish enough to try and stop him from killing as many terrorists as possible.
Fans who are looking for Rapp's continuing efforts against the current Islamofascist threat will have to wait a while; Flynn's latest offering has a slightly different treat in store.
American Assassin (Atria, $27.99) recounts the hitherto-untold story about how superagent Mitch Rapp came to be super-agent Mitch Rapp. The tale follows new prize CIA recruit Rapp – motivated by his fiancé's death in the terrorist bombing of Flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland – as he enters training. (Maybe Flynn's next book should have Rapp taking out the Libyan terrorist supposedly dying of prostate cander who was released by the Scots but seems to have made a remarkable recovery.)
Flynn gives a co-starring role to Stan Hurley, a great minor character from a previous novel. A legendary Cold War and Middle East operative, Hurley butts heads with Rapp as his trainer. He may be the old man molding the new boots, but Hurley has enough of an edge and a wild unpredictability that I couldn't help think that it's too bad a spinoff series is unlikely – unless Flynn wants to write more thrillers set in days of yore.