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Sunday, March 28, 2010

Reading List: Consent to Kill

Flynn, Vince. Consent to Kill. New York: Pocket Books, 2005. ISBN 978-1-4165-0501-3.
This is the sixth novel in the Mitch Rapp (warning—the article at this link contains minor spoilers) series. In the aftermath of Memorial Day (December 2009), a Saudi billionaire takes out a contract on Mitch Rapp, who he blames for the death of his son. Working through a cut-out, an assassin (one of the most interesting and frightening villains in the Vince Flynn yarns I've read so far—kind of an evil James Bond) is recruited to eliminate Rapp, ideally making it look like an accident to avoid further retribution. The assassin is conflicted, on the one hand respecting Rapp, but on the other excited by the challenge of going after the hardest target of all and ending his career with not just a crowning victory but a financial reward large enough to get out of the game.

Things do not go as planned, and the result is a relentless grudge match as Rapp pursues his attackers like Nemesis. This is a close-up, personal story rather than a high concept thriller like Memorial Day, and is more morality play than an edge of the seat page-turner. Once again, Flynn takes the opportunity to skewer politicians who'd rather excuse murderers than risk bad press. Although events and characters from earlier novels figure in this story, you can enjoy this one without having read any of the others.

Vince Flynn is acclaimed for the attention to detail in his novels, due not only to his own extensive research but a “brain trust” of Washington insider fans who “brief him in” on how things work there. That said, this book struck me as rather more sloppy than the others I've read, fumbling not super-geeky minutiæ but items I'd expect any editor with a sharp red pencil to finger. Below are some examples; while none are major plot spoilers, I've put them in a spoiler block just in case, but also for readers who'd like to see if they can spot them for themselves when they read the novel, then come back here and compare notes.

Spoiler warning: Plot and/or ending details follow.  
I'll cite these by chapter number, because I read the Kindle edition, which doesn't use conventional page numbers.

Chapter 53: “The sun was falling in the east, shooting golden streaks of light and shadows across the fields.” Even in CIA safe houses where weird drug-augmented interrogations are performed, the sun still sets in the west.

Chapter 63: “The presidential suite at the Hotel Baur Au Lac [sic] was secured for one night at a cost of 5,000 Swiss francs. … The suite consisted of three bedrooms, two separate living rooms, and a verandah that overlooked Lake Geneva.” Even the poshest of hotels in Zürich do not overlook Lake Geneva, seeing as it's on the other end of the country, more than 200 kilometres away! I presume he intended the Zürichsee. And you don't capitalise “au”.

Chapter 73: “Everyone on Mitch's team wore a transponder. Each agent's location was marked on the screen with a neon green dot and a number.” A neon dot would be red-orange, not green—how quickly people forget.

Chapter 78: “The 493 hp engine propelled the silver Mercedes down the Swiss autobahn at speeds sometimes approaching 150 mph. … The police were fine with fast driving, but not reckless.” There is no speed limit on German Autobahnen, but I can assure you that the Swiss police are anything but “fine” with people driving twice the speed limit of 120 km/h on their roads.

Spoilers end here.  
The conclusion is somewhat surprising. Whether we're beginning to see a flowering of compassion in Mitch Rapp or just a matter of professional courtesy is up to the reader to decide.

Posted at March 28, 2010 16:39