Review: Enemy of the State – Kyle Mills (Vince Flynn)

5 of 5 stars

Series: Mitch Rapp 16

My version: Advanced uncorrected proof
Fiction Thriller, terrorism
Emily Bestler Books/Atria
Sent as part of the Mitch Rapp Ambassador programme (!)

Covert Operative Mitch Rapp finds himself the target of one of America’s closest allies as he attempts to unravel a treacherous global conspiracy.

After 9/11, the United States made one of the most secretive and dangerous deals in its history. The evidence against the powerful Saudis who coordinated the attack would be buried. In return, King Faisal would promise to keep the oil flowing and deal with the conspiracists in his midst.

When the king’s own nephew is discovered funding ISIS, the president suspects that the Saudis never intended to live up to their agreement. He decides that the royal family needs to be sent a message and that Mitch Rapp is just the man to deliver it. The catch? America can’t be seen moving against an ally. Rapp will be on his own. Forced to make a decision that will change his life forever, Rapp quits the CIA and assembles a group of independent contractors to help him complete the mission.

Things go sideways fast, though, and suddenly Rapp, supported only by a team of mercenaries with dubious allegiances, finds himself at the centre of the most elaborate manhunt in history. Will he complete his mission, or will he forever be branded as an enemy of the state?

The UK coverThe UK cover

The transition from Vince Flynn-written Mitch Rapp books, to Kyle Mills-written books, has been truly seamless. Unfortunately, that rather denigrates Kyle Mills’ contribution I guess, and it absolutely should not. I have previously tried to guess where Vince Flynn had got to before his untimely death from cancer, and I think I’ve got it right, and while he may well have roughed out the near future of his plans for the character and the series, I’d say that we’re at least two books into Kyle Mills’ tenure. I knew nothing of Kyle Mills’ work prior to his Mitch Rapp work, so I can’t say if he’s taken a step up, or what – as I’m pretty sure now, that there weren’t too many authors of Vince Flynn’s thriller-writing calibre by the time of his death. Maybe a handful. That he has slotted in so well, so satisfyingly, really says a lot about his quality. And that there are (at least) three more books commissioned from him, says much about his selling power. His and Vince’s. It looks as though the whole series, all 16 so far, will get an added boost, when the film version of American Assassin, the first Vince Flynn Mitch Rapp book proper, comes out in the next month. From what I’ve seen of trailers and whathaveyou, it looks extremely well-cast and well-produced. The story has been altered a little, up-dated really, so that was already in place. Bringing Vince and Kyle’s work to an even larger audience can only be good news for book lovers everywhere.

Teaser poster for American Assassin film

So how about where are we with the series now?
Enemy of the State races along at a furious pace, when I had to stop and lift my eyes from the page (for a brake?), I could almost smell the burning of tire rubber. It is often absurdly tense, as new developments – and new character ideas – come thick and fast. Rapp sometimes shows signs of softening, but only in his attitudes to his private life (personally, I never did like his wife, she was a huge compromise and I was jumping for joy – mentally – when she was disposed of. I’d say that Vince Flynn lost her for the same reasons that I didn’t like her. She was a mistake. Anyway, without giving too much away, Rapp is coming around. His focus in his job, is undiminished. That can make him appear a little too belligerent and intolerant, something that in his job, he can’t afford to be.

American Assassin film poster

The story is going into (recent) Bourne territory, with the idea that an American agent is working with their Russian counterpart. Not Bourne-like with the high-tech leading the way though. Rapp’s preferred methods are always delightfully, up close and personal, low-tech. Having Saudi Arabia as the ‘problem’ here, as opposed to the much easier ‘anything goes’ areas of Iraq, Afghanistan, Syria, is also, I’d say, fairly brave. I don’t know how Saudi Arabia is viewed by the mainstream over there (in the US), but there’s some strong stuff here in the non-spoken passages. Something else which I think is ideal for us Europeans.

American Assassin film book tie-in cover

My feeling also is, that these books have always given the reader what they wished would happen, behind the scenes. That there is a Rapp running around sorting out the people who need sorting out. For us Europeans, that inference and attitude, is a little more problematical. But Vince Flynn, and now Kyle Mills do seem to be treading along the fine line, with remarkable and commendable surety.
What does, if not worry me, make me a little curious as to how it can change, is the US’ over-reliance on Mitch Rapp. One man. Every time there is a problem, they shine the Rapp symbol on a cloud and in he comes. He then dispenses with other ‘operatives’ and subordinates. I can’t imagine that, even in a Trump-reality, this is a good idea. How that can be developed, I’m not sure, as the author is probably worried that adding in some new blood, might detract from wat we’re paying good money for, which is to see Mitch Rapp beating up the bad guys. But a few more agents in a few more areas, would make the whole thing feel a little more state-like, and not a glorified cottage-industry-like which it looks sometimes.

Proof I am the Mitch Rapp Ambassador for Denmark. And a complete child.

Another thing, is something that (presumably) Kyle Mills has no control over. Having a dip-shit, racist, liar, idiot, buffoon, clown in the White House wearing a badge saying ‘President.’ Having portrayed the President(s) throughout the series, and again here, as fitting our idea of how a President should be, what to do now? As Bourne, take the character away from the President’s sphere? So they don’t have to include a President in the story? It’s tricky, as to write the novel so it is bang up to date, and having a President written as a cross between JFK, Jimmy Carter, Einstein and Nelson Mandela, is not going to work out well in the thinking reader’s mind. Until the shaved Oran-Utan is put in gaol, anyway.
In summary – an incredibly exciting, well-conceived and written novel. A real thriller in every sense, a superb continuation of the Vince Flynn legacy, and your next favourite book. Go buy it, go see the film – go get hooked.

Enemy of the State is released on 5 September (US), 7 September (UK).
You can buy Enemy of The State from The Book Depository in two covers:

The US cover here. UK cover here.

I got the proof sent, as you see from the top of the page, but I have/had already ordered the UK version, as I think it is the better cover – and fits the style of all the other books I have in the series.

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