Wednesday, December 16, 2009

Pursuit of Honor

I am arriving way late to the Vince Flynn/Mitch Rapp party because, if I count correctly, Pursuit of Honor is Flynn’s tenth book in the Mitch Rapp series. It is my first exposure to the character – and I only wish I had arrived earlier. But the good news is that, although I have a lot of catching up to do, getting there should be quite a ride.

Pursuit of Honor starts just a few days after a terrorist attack on Washington D.C. has killed 185 people, including several members of Congress and other government officials. The terrorists even had the audacity to strike directly at the country’s counterterrorism nerve center where they managed to slaughter a good number of people before Mitch Rapp and his partner, Mike Nash, stop them with an audacious counterattack of their own.

When the smoke clears, three terrorists are still on the run, including the two responsible for planning the attacks, and Mitch Rapp wants them. More tellingly, he is willing to do whatever it takes to get them. Rapp is a realist, not a politician. He is not concerned with being politically correct, only with keeping his country and its citizens safe from the religious fanatics that are so willing to slaughter innocents in the name of their god. Rapp believes that assassination is a legitimate tool in a war in which the other side judges its victories in terms of civilian body count imposed and he is as ready to kill American traitors as he is Muslim terrorists. This does not, of course, make him popular with certain members of Congress.

Unfortunately for Rapp, and even more unfortunately for America, a handful of Congressmen have become so obsessed with his methods that they seem to be more concerned with seeing Rapp in prison than with protecting the country. They hold Mitch Rapp in contempt – and he returns the favor. Readers more aligned with Rapp’s way of thinking will particularly relish his confrontation with a female California senator during which the senator demands that Rapp address her as “Senator” rather than as “Ma’am.” What Mitch Rapp says at this meeting is typical of his politics and, as offensive as his views will be to some readers, what he expresses fits his character perfectly. This is who Mitch Rapp is, after all.

Vince Flynn keeps the tension in Pursuit of Honor at a high level by alternating chapters about Rapp and his team with those about the three terrorists trying to make their way unnoticed across Middle America. And, because Rapp has to spend so much of his time working the political side of the search, the chapters about the three terrorists, particularly those concerning the conflicts within that small group, are the book’s most tense ones. Flynn slowly brings the two groups closer and closer to each other until they finally clash in the book’s wild ending.

What Mitch Rapp’s congressional critics fail to recognize is that he is a moral man. His moral code may not be theirs but Rapp knows the difference between good and evil and he has dedicated his life to evil’s defeat, something that does not always seem to be the goal of his most vocal critics. Whether the real world would be a safer – or a more dangerous – place if there were more Mitch Rapps in it is subject to debate. But Pursuit of Honor does make one wonder.

Rated at: 5.0

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