Sunday, February 24, 2008

Vince Flynn - Made for TV

Protect_and_defend_cdProtect and Defend: A Thriller [AUDIOBOOK] [UNABRIDGED]  (Audio CD)
by Vince Flynn (Author), George Guidall (Reader)

Just before Christmas I picked up this Audiobook with a gift card I had been given by a co-worker.  I knew I would be driving back and forth a good bit to drop off and pick up the kids and decided that I would splurge on a diversion.  I just didn't realize the diversion would be quite so mindless.

I've enjoyed some of Flynn's previous work.  It's good for a plane trip or a beach read.  His hero, Mitch Rapp, is a CIA superagent and assassin, 'the point of the spear' in the war on terrorism.  Rapp is everything you could want in an action hero, a crack shot, a cunning tactician, a hardened soldier and a lover of many women.  This is Flynn's 8th book starring Rapp, and he is deepening in complexity as the series continues, but there are some parts missing in the rest of Protect and Defend.


Flynn's interpretation of post 9-11 geo-politics is that Islamic fundamentalism is the crux of the problem.  In this installment of the series he sets his cross-hairs on Iran and a barely-fictionalized version of the current political administration there.  Isreal blows up the Iranian nuclear weapons facility, the US is blamed and ultimately Irene Kennedy, Rapp's boss and CIA director, is kidnapped by the Iranians while they attempt to start a naval war in the Persian Gulf.

The problem isn't the it's ludicrous to beleive that the Iranians would kidnap the DCI.  Rather, it's that the book does little to flesh out WHY they would take such a risk except to say that the Iranian president is a nut.  Characters outside the series core are glossed over and act seemingly without defined motivations.

The action unfolds easily and with great action sequences, including a James Bond-like pre-sequence that wraps up a loose end from a prior novel.  There's a good bit of re-telling in the book as well.  No author can assume that a reader (or listener) has read all that preceeeded the current work, so som re-telling is necessary and tolerable in a series.  But so much of the Rapp series is dependent on what has gone before that a new reader is playing a lot of catch up and I was left wishing i could flip ahead now and then.

The book was clearly written with an eye not only on the current political situation in the Middle East, but also with the agenda that covert operations would do much to improve the lot of the US.  It's not implausible, but also one that is fraught with perils that Flynn does not touch on.

As books go, this is in the made-for-TV category.  Not quite up to top-drawer standards, but enjoyable for a few hours in the car or on the plane.  While there's never been a Mitch Rapp movie yet, probably due to the anti-Saudi and anti-Islamist sentiments, it now appears that there are a few in the works.

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