Prior to this there had been nine novels in Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series, and over the course of those books, Rapp’s origin was succinctly illuminated. I never felt like any pieces of his origin were missing; never thought anything needed to be clarified, or desired to know the specifics of his training or the details of his first mission. Some things are better off unsaid. Prequels are dangerous things, in any medium. More often not, they fall flat. Unfortunately that’s the case with AMERICAN ASSASSIN. There are flickers of enjoyment throughout – Flynn’s adept when it comes to the action scenes – but this prequel lacks the excitement of his earlier works, and coupled with a meek plot and a litany of typographic errors, it’s impossible to whole-heartedly recommend. Indeed, I’d suggest skipping this entirely, and starting with TRANSFER OF POWER.
Let’s ignore the errors littered through the novel. There are plenty, that’s for certain – from simple spelling errors to characters appearing out of nowhere. Sections of AMERICA ASSASSIN read like a first draft in need of a strong editors pen. Flynn’s novel seems to have been short-changed in this department, and the novel is all the worst for it. Authors deserve better, but especially bestselling ones, whose names sell books. These mistakes grate as they accumulate, but could perhaps be overlooked if the narrative excelled.
The novel lacks the cohesion I’ve come to expect from Flynn. There’s really no need to delve into Rapp’s training, besides proving he’s an elite operatives, and shining the spotlight of his trainer, Stan Hurley’s, bad-assness. Rapp’s proven his brilliance over the course of nine novels – if anything, being so skilled prior to his training damages his authenticity. When the plot focuses on Rapp’s team tracking down elements responsible for the Pan Am Lockerbie’s, the novel zings along. But all too often it grinds to a halt, as Flynn those in random elements, like the sole female character, Greta, who exists as one of the most artificial love interests I’ve ever read. She and Rapp share barely thirty pages together before they’re going at it. The whole relationship feels very trite. Still, as Flynn manoeuvres the various players integral to the plot, AMERICAN ASSASSIN builds to what threatens to be an exciting conclusion, but eventually fizzles out unsatisfactorily. No real shocks. No real surprises. I closed the novel not having hated the journey, but questioning why it needed to be told in the first place.
AMERICAN ASSASSIN isn’t all bad – it’s just not on the same level as (most) of its predecessors. The first published Rapp novel was exciting. TRANSFER OF POWER was brilliant. It is the perfect opener to a series. AMERICAN ASSASSIN doesn’t come close to matching it. Do yourself a favour; ignore the chronological reading list and read the Rapp series in order of publication.
Classification: Thriller / suspense
Imprint: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publisher: Simon & Schuster Ltd
Publish Date: 26-May-2011
Country of Publication: United Kingdom