“Saw what you did with them rednecks, son. Three guys, one punch. What’d they do?”
“Dissed mah maw.”
“Nice moves. Name’s Klunt Kirst. I’m with the CIA. Need a job?”
“Sure do, Kirst.”
“What’s your name, son?”
“Well Archibald… like I said… This job. Uh… My sister teaches ballroom dancing, and she’s looking for a trainee instructor…”
Mitch Rapp (yeah!) works for the CIA, sort of, (they never do really, it’s always some top secret organisation that the CIA doesn’t know anything about except at the higher levels), in a number of books I’ve not read and this serves as a prequel. It presenting us with Rapp (yeah!) the college kid with the runny nose being introduced to special ops training with one Hurley, the bastard with the heart of gold, (which he must, of course, have, as an American fighting for the good guys). Rapp (yeah!) is one of those beings only ever born in America who takes to everything like a duck to water and can outdo anyone with twenty years’ experience in any field having done no more than read the title of the training manual and thought about it for two-and-a-half seconds.
Rapp (yeah!)’s first mission sees him ignoring Hurley’s orders and doing a better job of it than if he’d followed them. Hurley, of course, is well pissed off with Rapp (yeah!) but keeps him on under pressure from the (of course wise and cool) boss of the covert outfit, the (of course sassy and intuitive) female finder of Rapp (yeah!), and the (of course level-headed, completely sane and clinical) psychologist attached to the team.
On an op in Beirut, Hurley is kidnapped and undergoes extreme torture. And then Rapp (yeah!) goes and… but no, I won’t spoil the ending for you. Not like you can guess it. Or anything.
Oh okay, yes, I’m being a snob and yes, I quite liked it in a ‘Take my brain, put it in a vat for storage, and pass me the bubblegum’ sort of a way. The characters are good if they’re born in the USA, largely bad if not. America is worth protecting and not much else, but America has to protect it anyway. The bad guys, albeit in bad ways, are often the most interesting and better-delineated of the characters; but then, isn’t that always true? Good, even with muscle behind it, is featureless; it just punches harder and doesn’t cheat. By the end of it, I admit, I could have wished subsequent stories were to be about the two Russians in the novel, but they’re to be no longer available I guess, and that’s how it’s gotta be. Good must out, the bad guys must get their comeuppance.
The pacing was good, though the introductory glimpse ahead into the story somewhat confusing featuring, as it does, the kidnap of Rapp (yeah!), though if you’re not paying attention you could think it the kidnap of one of the other individuals we see suffer that same temporary annoyance. Well okay, to be fair, one good guy dies horribly under torture to keep us engaged and to stop the bad guys appearing entirely incompetent.
And well… that’s about it, really. It does the job and does it well enough. Recommended if you like that sort of thing; even recommended if you don’t, you lying snob. There’s nothing here really to dislike.