Book Review: Act of Treason – Vince Flynn

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Act of Treason is the ninth book in Vince Flynn’s best-selling series, and a consistent, assured, and expertly crafted novel featuring the very best aspects of the genre. The protagonist is Mitch Rapp, a familiar figure from the previous novels, and a gifted assassin with a profound and well-documented interested in violent behaviour, and Act of Treason follows Mitch’s movements as he makes a tough play against a deadly new threat.

Election Day fast approaches, but the news of the hour is death. The presidential candidate’s motorcade is attacked, killing the candidate’s wife, and it is on the sympathy vote that he rides to a sad sort of subdued victory. The nation is thrown into disarray, shocked and scared, and the responsibility falls to Mitch Rapp to discover those responsible and deal out his special brand of kamikaze justice.

All in a day’s work.

I found Act of Treason to be an enjoyable read. The premise was intriguing, the plot itself contained enough surprise twists to retain my interest, build anticipation, and generate a consistent level of tension, and the setting was detailed enough to leave me thoroughly convinced. Flynn’s knowledge of his chosen genre is extensive, and in Act of Treason he exhibits this to great effect, from the precise details of Rapp’s weaponry – including his personal reasons for carrying it – to each carefully identified geographical location, Flynn avoids leaves nothing to chance or assumption, nothing unexplained.

It is a masterful effort with an undeniably positive result, lending a complicated narrative coherency and a sense of realism.

Alternatively: I liked it.

Secondly, apart from the occasional sojourn into the (generally rather unhappy) life and times of the other characters involved, the reader is primarily privy to Mitch Rapp’s perspective, and is, as such, offered a unique insight into his complex psyche. His motivations, both generally, and in the context of each specific case or mission, are outlined in full, and his various ‘personality quirks,’ from his stated desire to not only bring death to terrorists, but also a deep, prevailing gut-wrenching fear to those terrorists still loitering in the land of the living, to his preference for blondes, are made increasingly clear as the reader proceeds through the narrative and/or the series. He’s a detailed, well-defined character, with clear parameters and a distinct personality.

However, he’s also something of a stereotype, the bog-standard action figure that’s an expert in every field and that doesn’t have weaknesses so much as he has things that he is slightly less good at. His personality, backstory, attitude form a recognisable structure, and it is, arguably, a touch dull. Additionally, the other characters are even worse off, generally lacking the definition and detail conferred upon Rapp.

Find me an assassin without a tragic past and commitment issues, and I’ll take you out for coffee (I can’t afford dinner).

The settings, on the other hand, [i]were[/i] interesting. As I have already mentioned – possibly more than once – Flynn’s writing typically exhibits an impressive attention to detail. Act of Treason is a prime example of this, exhibiting the admirably wide scope of Flynn’s knowledge and interest, as well as his exceedingly thorough approach. The settings are all real places, and Flynn describes them extremely vividly, taking note both of the basic knowledge and the small seemingly inconsequential details that really breathe life into a narrative. Mitch Rapp may have no appreciation for those small factors, but I do, and Flynn’s imagery is detailed enough that I could almost be there to watch the events of the narrative unfold.

(Not that I’d want to be – the death count is high).

Finally – the end is nigh, dear reader, so have strength – I rated Act of Treason four out of five stars for the many admirable points mentioned above, including but not limited to an intriguing premise and plot, a strong attention to detail, and a laudably strong understanding of the chosen topic and genre. But I gave it only four stars because I think that the characters could have been better defined and developed. It is a strong novel from an equally strong author, however, and fans of the genre are unlikely to find anything unimpressive about it.

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