Enemy at the Gates (Mitch Rapp #20), by Kyle Mills

Eight stars

In a series that is so full of action, Kyle Mills brings Mitch Rapp back for another sensational story. Having taken over with the passing of Vince Flynn, Mills had big shoes to fill, but has done a sensational job continuing this series yet again. When the world’s richest man is threatened, Rapp is sent by a new president to protect him, as well as learn who is leaking intelligence from the CIA. It will be one of the most harrowing missions Rapp has had to face, forcing him to wonder if he is ready to call it quits once and for all. Another winner that has me realising that there are some authors who know how to pick up the thread of a series and not ruin its momentum.

With the election of a new president, America is in for a sobering future. Anthony Cook has his own ideas on how to run things and does not allow others to shape his opinions. This includes well-established CIA Director Irene Kennedy or her prized operative, Mitch Rapp. Both have been whispered about through the hallowed halls of the White House, but Cook is ready to stop that and show that he holds all the power.

Kennedy brings some startling concerns to the president, that there is someone within the Agency scouring through sensitive intel and providing it to America’s enemies. The crux of the data leaks relate to Nicholas Ward, the world’s richest man. His work in the pharmaceutical field could change the lives of many, but if he falls into the wrong hands, there could be serious repercussions. President Cook agrees and allows Mitch Rapp to head out, in hopes of protecting Ward on the other side of the world.

In Uganda, Rapp is tasked with finding and keeping Ward out of harm’s way. However, there will be issues, as a ruthless warlord has his eye on the man and all that he could bring in the form of riches. Rapp will have to struggle through unfamiliar terrain to protect Ward and get to the bottom of what has been a secret laboratory that possesses Ward’s scientific work, all while remaining off the radar.

With no time to lose, Rapp must stay one step ahead and work with his skeleton crew, all while remaining in the shadows. Kennedy is relying on him, though it will be Rapp’s own intuition that propels him forward in this mission. No one is safe, least of all those who are not used to the tactics of cutthroat child soldiers in the jungles of Africa. Will Rapp finally realise that it is time to walk away, or does someone have a more drastic means by which to end Rapp’s career? A chilling story that keeps the reader guessing throughout.

I’ve enjoyed the Mitch Rapp series from the beginning and my curiosity has never waned. When Vince Flynn passed on, I was sure things would come to an abrupt halt, but Kyle Mills was able to take over the reins and keep things moving. He has done a marvellous job at seamlessly creating a new tangent in the series without losing the flavour that Flynn brought to his thrillers. While Rapp has surely aged and become more of a family man (unheard of, usually), there is still a lot of spark left. I have no complaints!

Rapp continues to dazzle in this piece, proving that he is both a force to be reckoned with and a highly entertaining character. His backstory long ago faded into the horizon, but he continues to develop effectively, including a makeshift family that only adds to his worry. Rapp proves to be gritty and soft hearted at the same time, though his questioning of missions and decisions has never waned. It will be interesting to see where the series will go from here, though I am sure Mills has some interesting choices to make before long.

In a genre so full of rough and tumble characters, Mills has to differentiate Mitch Rapp from many of the others who are covertly out there saving the world. He has done so, using strong writing and a great narrative to keep the reader intrigued throughout the process. Unique settings and strong characters help to keep the reader coming back, as well as utilising great character backstories throughout the process. While the series has lasted many years, one can only wonder where Kyle Mills will take it, or if it is time to branch off. I am eager to see what’s next or how revelations within this story will impact future Rapp publications.

Kudos, Mr. Mills, for another great piece. I am eager to see where you will take us in the coming years!

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Lethal Agent (Mitch Rapp #18), by Kyle Mills

Eight stars

The latest novel in the Mitch Rapp series will leave long-time fans with a question or two, while newer recruits may be ready to dive right in. This is one of those ‘take-over’ series, to which I will refer later in the review. Such a series is not everyone’s cup of tea, putting the caliber of the overall product in jeopardy. When a former Saudi intelligence agent finds his way into Iraq and seeks to impress the ISIS hierarchy, Mitch Rapp is waiting to exterminate the man. However, Sayid Halabi did not get to where he was with dumb luck, evading capture and death, two marks against Rapp. While he was one of the CIA’s best former operatives, he now serves as a private contractor. Sneaking into Yemen, Halabi has plans to create a new weapon that will bring America to its knees, literally. He works with a handful of brilliant minds and uses a ruthlessness fuelled by hatred to get the weapons program on track. Back in the US, a heated primary season has begun for the American presidency, with one contender way ahead. It would seem that the CIA and its antics will soon find their way onto the chopping block, if changes are not made. Rapp is sent into Yemen to track down Halabi, only to discover the bioweapon that is in the making. An odd partnership with a Mexican drug cartel is what ISIS will need to bring their plan to fruition and Rapp is there to help stop it. Called back to handle the domestic end of things, Rapp flexes some muscle and tries weapon’s entry into the US, killing a few men on the ground in the ensuing fight. News of this leaks up the chain of command, putting Rapp and his boss, CIA Director Irene Kennedy, in the crosshairs of the Intelligence community and a bloodthirsty presidential candidate. While Rapp knows that he can be effective, without the outright protection of the CIA and Kennedy, he will have to make some choices that could turn out to be detrimental to all involved. Terror does not take a break when its greatest enemy is down and out, so something will soon have to give. One can only hope it is not America’s desire for domestic tranquility. An interesting novel that adds to the continuation of the series, which will surely captivate some and leave others wondering what’s next. Recommended to those who revel in terrorism thrillers and the reader who has followed Rapp through this long and bone-breaking journey.

I have enjoyed much of what Kyle Mills did when he took over the Mitch Rapp series, after the premature death of its creator, Vince Flynn. There is a certain sharpness to the writing and the style that keeps the reader wanting to know more. Rapp has long since abandoned the need for character development and he is so completely divorced from personal backstory that it is all the blood and grit before him that propels the story forward. Keen to keep his country safe, Rapp now has to manage working on the outside of official CIA circles, which means fewer chances for protection and more opportunity for capture or abandonment. Other characters in the story help push Rapp forward, be it in trying to protect him on the sly or seeking to have him hunted down and killed for the betterment of all. These characters work well the imbue the narrative with something exciting, making the story more than shooting and bombing on the other side of the world. The narrative remains well-paced and Mills keeps the Vince Flynn flavour to the writing, which has never been an issue. However, as I have mentioned before, the transition from one author to another brings about some inherent issues. Mills can sometimes stray away from where Flynn usually took things, but the current author is also shackled with some of the choices made by the series creator. (These books are not like a soap opera, where characters and plot lines can be altered four novels later, having people rise from the dead in a mistaken identity foible.) In reading how Mills depicts Mitch Rapp and the overall theme of the book, one can wonder if bones and joints are getting sore, if the lack of protection by his own country is becoming obvious, and if it might be time to put an end to the entire series and let anyone left sip drinks by a poolside. Don’t get me wrong, I do enjoy the series and this was a great book, but all good things must come to an end when they lack the robustness fans have come to expect. Then again, I am simply a reviewer.

Kudos, Mr. Mills, for another great book in the series. I keep telling myself, I need to read some of your earlier work to see if it keeps me as connected to you.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Red War (Mitch Rapp #17), by Kyle Mills

Seven stars

Kyle Mills is back with another of Vince Flynn’s classic novels of espionage, where Mitch Rapp finds himself in the middle of yet another international skirmish. After an attack on a prominent Russian in Central America, Rapp and those high-up in the CIA take notice, sure the Russian Government is involved. While they ponder how to handle this, Rapp is left to wonder what else Moscow might be plotting. Little known to most, the current Russian President is ill, terminally so. In what might be his last act of aggression, the president is convinced of an attack on some of his former satellite states, those in the Baltic that have since joined NATO. Sure that this will bring the Americans into yet another bloody war, the Russians begin to maneuver. Rapp and his team posit what might be going on, though many of the military forces of those countries that are potential targets remain unconvinced. It is a race against time and the two re-emerging superpowers may have one last stand-off. For one, it’s all in with nothing to lose. For the other, the world watches, as strategic force serves as a restraining deterrent. Mills does well to continue this series and takes readers on another spellbinding ride through international politics and espionage. Recommended for those who love the work Vince Flynn did before his premature death.

Since taking over the Mitch Rapp series, Mills has done well to promote a strong continuity when it comes to storylines, characters, and overall plot. That is rare, as I have come to see in other series taken over by new authors, who always like to establish their own control and usually leave the series reader deflated. Mitch Rapp remains a highly intriguing character, with his penchant for off-hand jokes, while offering a strong focus when work requires it. He is gritty, but also compassionate and keeps the reader liking this mix, for the most part. I cannot help but wonder if it is almost time for Rapp to switch to another role, thinking his body has taken enough beatings. That said, Bond is still around all these years later, right? The other characters, regulars and new faces, prove to push the story in interesting directions, with a focus on Russia and a political push towards supremacy again. The story is one that I have actually seen recently in another espionage series I read, where Russia is trying to erode the power of NATO through some of its former satellite countries. Funny enough, this may prove to be the new theme in this genre, which is nice after too many years of ISIS battles have surely drawn the ire of the genre reader. I am curious to see what else Mills has in store for this series, as there is surely much that could be developed, though I am also sure Rapp could retire and live a peaceful life once and for all. However, we all know Rapp is not the kind of guy to sit on the porch, sipping sweet tea!

Kudos, Mr. Mills, for another strong book. While not my favourite of your books in this series, it is sure to get others talking and wondering.

A Book for All Seasons, a different sort of Book Challenge: https://www.goodreads.com/group/show/248185-a-book-for-all-seasons

Enemy of the State (Mitch Rapp #16)

Eight stars
First and foremost, a large thank you to NetGalley, Kyle Mills and Simon and Schuster Canada for providing me with a copy of this publication, which allows me to provide you with an unbiased review.
Continuing the highly popular Mitch Rapp series, Kyle Mills surely impresses Vince Flynn fans (and the late author’s estate) with another stellar novel. Still healing from his latest mission, Rapp has decided to settle down a little and build a colossal estate just outside the D.C. area. When news from a reconnaissance mission in Morocco reaches him, he is somewhat surprised to learn that Saudi Prince Talal bin Musaid has been caught providing large sums of money to ISIS. However, no one is more surprised and shocked than the current POTUS, who has come to despise his predecessor’s ignoring the proof that the House of Saud was implicit in the September 11th terror attacks. Nonetheless, with an ailing King Faisal, there is a need to cut off this financial pipeline before the country falls into new hands, those who might be more than willing to fuel terror attacks on America and give the new caliphate a crown jewel. When the head of the information directorate appears for a meeting with the president, lines are drawn in the sand. Aali Nassar refuses to be dictated to, though promises to support America, while secretly in charge of the ISIS financing and eyeing the chance to overtake the country’s government once the king is dead. Rapp is summoned and told explicitly that he must handle things, but it is a completely rogue mission against an ally. Rapp chooses to distance himself from the Agency, tendering his resignation and sending shockwaves around the international intelligence community. Rapp collects a band of covert misfits to assist him with the task at hand. What could be a simple mission goes somewhat haywire and Rapp is caught on video. Unable to publicly defend him, POTUS agrees to Nassar’s request to use American support to locate Rapp and force him to answer for his crime. All the while Nassar is happy to hunt down the one man who might foil his plan to fund ISIS and bring about a Middle East superpower to rival the Americans. The question remains, who is the real enemy of the American state? A sensational thriller that will keep Mitch Rapp fans on the edge of their seats. Perfect for them and anyone else who enjoys a little politics with their covert operative novels.
This novel goes to show that there are rare occasions when authors can continue a series effectively and with honour. I have admired Kyle Mills for a long time and this addition to the Mitch Rapp series exemplifies that many times over. Rapp is a complex character and has been since Vince Flynn first had him make his way onto the printed page. Wrestling with demons from his past and seeing those closest to him die has, in some regards, taken the edge of this man. However, even with a softer and more family-oriented side, Rapp remains sharp when called to defend his country. Mills effectively shows these two sides and keeps Rapp as entertaining as he has always been. Other characters help to advance the story and offer something to flavour Rapp as the protagonist, but there is little backstory spun in this piece. Much is a forward thinking approach and, as some readers may posit alongside me, perhaps Mitch Rapp is winding down and hanging things up in the coming years. Far be it from me to say that Mills has any intention of doing so, but there are signs, albeit somewhat subtle. The story remains fresh and can be pulled from the headlines, though it is not a flogging of ISIS in the usually overdone approach. The plot remains complex enough that the reader can find new approaches and something fresh on which to connect themselves without bemoaning the words ‘America’ and ‘ISIS’ in the same paragraph. Kudos to Mills for that, in a genre that seems hung up on pitting the US against this somewhat elusive military band of less-than-merry men. Newcomers to the series might want to begin where it all started to get a good feel for Mitch Rapp and his countless adventures, but I am sure series veterans will bask in all there is within this novel.
Kudos, Mr. Mills for keeping things interesting from beginning right until the last sentence. You have always kept things respectable and full of intrigue and for that I am sure Vince Flynn would be forever grateful.