Top critical review
“To kill a man like Mitch Rapp, however, would be an entirely different matter.”
Reviewed in the United States on November 21, 2019
I suppose that after reading an author or a political/spy series as focused as this Mitch Rapp – Vince Flynn pairing has been, one begins to notice a certain trend or tendency in the literary content or the general character development/maintenance of the main protagonists. Perhaps it is due to the overt length of this particular work (465 pages hardcover) or because of the nature of this particular storyline, but we are definitely starting to see the limits of Flynn’s literary capabilities, and as a result, this entry into the series was, I felt, the weakest thus far.
Make no mistake though…Flynn is just as magnificent as he’s always been at describing the intrigue of international terrorist affairs and the actions that the United States takes in uncovering and subduing these malicious acts. But it is when he engages Rapp on the home-front, especially in a domesticated setting, with a clearly mis-matched/mis-characterized wife, and then attempts dialogue, completely banal and cliched, that we see a substantive loss of credibility. And it is within this volume that these situations seem to suddenly separate him (Rapp) from the overall character personae that we’ve grown to know…all of which is not to say that Rapp can’t necessarily be domesticated…it’s just that Flynn’s depictions have suddenly grown rather trite and non-sellable. And, there are far too many of them here that offset the storyline in a negative fashion.
Also, and I don’t mean to keep belaboring the negative points or sounding insensitive, but there are far too many Arabic names here to keep track of…perhaps it’s unfortunate but it has been a proven literary fact that for the average American reader, even of these international terrorist/espionage thrillers, the number of complex Arab names must be kept to a realistic minimum. Here, though, Flynn is throwing them around at an alarming rate, rapidly losing the reader right from the very beginning…it almost requires a pad and pencil to keep up, a mortal sin for a novelist. The characters do work themselves out in the end but there are too many moments in-between where we lose sight of who we’re actually talking about.
This plot begins with a unique turn for a Mitch Rapp novel…following the “removal” of one of these Arab terrorists, a contract is taken out on Rapp’s life by his supremely wealthy father. Sub-contracting it through a former Stasi German who then further sub-contracts it (??) through a French assassin and his girlfriend/partner, we watch the confluence of events that lead to the showdown between assassin and Rapp. Needless to say, Rapp survives, but not without telling consequences…and with the revenge sector of his brain in full fury, his supporters in the government know he will stop at nothing to bring down those who perpetrated this act. Political and international intrigue ensue, of course, and it’s a race, a “kill or be killed” plot to the end that puts Rapp once again on the front line of world terror.
Flynn also continues his mastery of military tactics and weapons here and this is what continually sells these novels for me. He is profound with locations and attack plans which make me wonder (like virtually all his other readers) where he gets such detailed, inside information…this work is especially beguiling for the intricate revenge plans that Rapp takes in foreign countries.
So, in summary, “Consent To Kill” was not only a turning point for the Mitch Rapp character, it was for me as well…claiming the same excellence in political/military intrigue, it dissipated rather severely in terms of literary writing quality. For those who might pick this up without having read the catalogue up to it, I’m sure that it stands out…for those of us that’ve followed along from the beginning however, my belief is that we’re seeing a major chink in the armor. The interactive dialogue here is approaching juvenile (most definitely including our main protagonist) while the supporting character structure has taken a marked step down. All this will certainly not stop me from continuing with this series, it’s only my hope that these charges will see it get better.