A plodding thriller in which all the good hit men shoot all the bad hit men, but everything else misfires.
Mitch Rapp, specialist in counterterrorism, “the most talented and courageous” man the CIA Director has ever seen, is back—doing what his limitless talent and lion-like courage enables him to do best: assassinate people. This time out the target is that unprincipled German industrialist Count Heinrich Hagenmiller, a snake in the grass who’s been selling masses of nuclear stuff to the even better-known reprobate Saddam Hussein. Can’t have that kind of antisocial behavior, acting CIA Director Irene Kennedy sniffs, and dispatches her most adroit killer to the Count’s lush, ill-gotten estate to solve the problem. Mitch does so, of course, but in the process of subtracting the Count he almost gets eliminated himself by Ruth and Jim Jensen, members of Mitch’s killing team who’ve planned a special surprise for their boss. Luckily, Mitch is wearing his Kevlar liner, and luckily, rogue hit people are dumb enough to pump their 9-mm parabellum rounds into his chest, not his invitingly un-armored head. But what’s going on here? Why would the Jensens, virtual strangers to Mitch, take so dim a view of him? Before he can ask, they’re dead—rubbed out by still another team of rogue hit men before still another team of good hit men can latch on to them. Investigating, Mitch finds conspiracy beneath conspiracy—internecine warfare involving congressmen, senators, the secretary of state, the president, a couple of alphabet agencies, and enough hair-trigger hit men to populate a Mafia convention. Could all the resultant slaughter just be a political ploy aimed at undercutting President Hayes’s hefty approval rating? Hard to believe.
Weak writing, implausible characters, threadbare plotting. It’s Flynn’s third time out (Transfer of Power, 1999, etc.), but he still hasn’t found the charm.