With “Enemy Of The State,” Kyle Mills has found his groove as he nailed down the characters created by Vince Flynn. As other thriller authors pivoted away from terrorism, Mitch Rapp, Dr. Irene Kennedy, and company continue to keep America safe by thwarting Islamic jihadists.
As in “The Third Option,” this plot has Mitch Rapp going somewhat rogue after being asked by the president to perform a mission that is completely off the books. He must track down, interrogate and kill members of the Saudi royal family who appear to be working with ISIS. Although Irene knows about it, she and Mitch realize this must be a completely black ops mission; thus, his resignation from the CIA. The investigation discovered Aali Nassar, Irene’s Saudi counterpart, promising to support America, while secretly in charge of the ISIS financing and eyeing the chance to overtake the country’s government once King Faisal dies. Nassar frames Mitch giving him an excuse to hunt down the one man who might foil his plan to fund ISIS and bring about a Middle East superpower to threaten the U.S. He gets the U.S. president to agree to have FBI Agent Joel Wilson work with him to find Mitch.
The action never stops as Mitch tries to keep one step ahead of his pursuers and to expose Nassar for what he truly is, a covert terrorist. To help Mitch, Mills has brought back some old familiar faces, while giving others a backseat. The character Dr. Irene Kennedy is central to any book. Mills realizes no Mitch Rapp book can succeed without her dominant presence. The scenes with her are a pivotal piece of the plot. Even a few pages speak of Irene’s son Tommy.
Mills describes her as “a realist, a philosopher of sorts, someone clear eyed and a student of human nature. She is always in the book, just off the pages. I always think of her as the puppet master. By her own admission she is not involved but watches and waits until it becomes necessary for her to be involved. She is seen as an intellectual who makes decisions based not on her gut, but her head.”
Readers might remember Joel Wilson from “The Last Man,” where he became Mitch’s nemesis. As the deputy director of counterintelligence, he accused Mitch of stealing. After being proved wrong Wilson lost that position, and he is now all too happy to work with Nassar while seeking revenge. Because Mitch needs a team to work with and help him confront the bad guys, he enlists the help of Donatella Rahn, his onetime lover, Grisha Azarov, his adversary now a peer, and Kent Black, a former Ranger sniper.
The logistics leader of the team is Claudia Gould who has both a professional and intimate relationship with Mitch. Because she has a 6-year-old child, Anna, when at home Mitch gets to play dad. These scenes are a welcome relief and venture back to the first books when Vince Flynn would include some of the character’s personal life. What Mills has brilliantly accomplished is the humanizing of Mitch. It is interesting to see the two sides of Rapp, a take charge, non-nonsense patriot, a take no prisoners guy, while acquiescing to Claudia at home.
Mills hopes to continue to have Claudia as a major character. “She is not the goody character like Anna. Plus she could be a part of some operations because of her experience. Mitch needs a companion. She can be involved in both his professional and personal life. Since Mitch is consumed with his work life anybody he becomes involved with must be a part of it. She is brilliant, beautiful, mysterious, pragmatic, adaptable, and not naïve. I want to humanize Mitch. I think he is fighting for normalcy, peace, and security so while at home he does not want to argue or fight. I do think she takes the initiative at home. When they work together he is in charge, but at home she is in charge.”
This novel perfectly combines geo-politics, covert operations, and the backstory of the characters. Readers can close their eyes and remember past books written by Vince Flynn and will not skip a beat with Kyle Mills at the helm.