Author: Vince Flynn

Title: Kill Shot

Publisher: Atria

In American Assassin, Vince Flynn rebooted his Mitch Rapp series, backing up to the day that Rapp was recruited to train at "The Farm." After graduating he successfully handles himself in the field with methods that don't always fit the typical rules of engagement but gets the job done with minimal lives lost and without leaving any trace that could lead back to the CIA.

Kill Shot opens a year later with Mitch having continued on a mission of executing terrorists one by one from a list given to him by his handlers. The terrorist circles are beginning to take notice of their decreasing numbers and are starting to look over their shoulders in fear. Mitch likes the fact that he is causing them emotional turmoil before he ever moves in for the kill. Although he has been trained to be a detached assassin, having lost his girlfriend Maureen in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am Flight 103 makes Mitch's mission very personal.

While his handler, Irene Kennedy, has the utmost faith in Mitch, the director of training, Stan Hurley, doesn't like that Mitch is out in the field on his own, afraid that he could become a rogue assassin with his own agenda. Hurley wants to rein Mitch in and partner him with someone of his own liking. The conflict between the two handlers lands at the feet of CIA Operations Director, Thomas Stansfield, who is not sure which of his agents to back.

As Mitch goes in for a kill at a hotel in Paris he is ambushed by a group of five, heavily armed men. He escapes, wounded, and begins to sort out that he was set up himself to be executed. The question is, by whom?  Back in the States the covert CIA team hears about the events of the night and worries that their agent has indeed gone rogue. There are nine people dead in the hotel, including civilians, and it has become a major, international incident. They have to get to Mitch in a hurry, if not to bring him back in, to take him permanently out.

The theme of Flynn's novel is trust. Mitch isn't sure he has anyone to trust other than his new, Swedish girlfriend Greta. Greta must decide whether or not to believe in longtime, family friends. The CIA agents are unsure of who is acting on their own or perhaps as double agents. The French police are finding they can't trust the French Secret Service and that they have compromised the crime scene at the hotel. Flynn jumps back and forth between the conflicted groups with each chapter building to a very thrilling conclusion in Paris, the City of Lights.

Flynn himself is experiencing a different environment than his super-agent, Mitch Rapp. Flynn was diagnosed with cancer this year and makes his feelings about those he is working with very clear in Kill Shot's acknowledgements. "I like working with people I admire and trust, and I like stability. When you find out you have cancer, this philosophy takes on a much deeper meaning. Instead of facing the scariest moment of your life alone you find yourself surrounded by people you care about and who genuinely care for you."

Here is to Vince Flynn's recovery and that we all find ourselves surrounded by the kind of friends he has found.

*This review first published 2/21/2012