Saturday, March 12, 2011

Protect and Defend

Those, like me, who have not read Act of Treason, the book that immediately precedes Protect and Defend will find themselves at a bit of a disadvantage as they begin this one.  That is because Protect and Defend begins with alternating chapters that tie up a major loose end from Act of Treason while beginning the setup for Mitch Rapp’s next mission.  The two books were written in 2006 and 2007 and Flynn assumed, I think, that his Mitch Rapp series would be read in the order in which it was written.  That was more likely to happen in 2007 than it is now that the series is at least ten books long and some of the earlier ones are getting tougher to find.  That minor quibble aside, Flynn soon moves on to the new plotline and the new adventure takes center stage all on its own.

Rapp’s quest involves an issue that is yet to be resolved in the real world: what to do about Iran’s determination to join the nuclear bomb club?  When, as a complete surprise to the United States, disaster strikes Iran’s nuclear program, Mitch Rapp sees an opportunity to destabilize that country’s government.  Rapp rightly suspects that the Israeli’s are involved but, since there is no evidence to tie the implosion of the facility to either Israel or the U.S., he arranges for a dissident group of Iranians to claim the credit.

Vince Flynn
All goes to plan until CIA director Irene Kennedy travels with Rapp to Iraq to explore the possibility of new relations with the Iranian government.  After a successful meeting with an Iranian official during which he agrees to approach the moderates in his government about Kennedy’s offer, things rapidly fall apart.  Director Kennedy’s motorcade is ambushed and she is kidnapped.  Suddenly hundred of lives are at stake unless Rapp can rescue Kennedy from the torturers who hold her.  Kennedy, it seems, has a photographic memory and, if she is forced to reveal the names of all the international operatives working for her, the U.S. intelligence program will be set back by decades.

The early pace of Protect and Defend, during which the previous book is put to bed and the new plot is outlined, is rather slow but Flynn’s pacing perfectly matches his plotline.  As things get more and more out of hand, and the tension level associated with Kennedy’s kidnapping cranks ever upward, the pace of the writing picks up speed as well, and Protect and Defend becomes the real page-turner Vince Flynn fans have come to expect from him.

Rated at: 4.0

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