Friday, August 20, 2010

Flynn Is In

I was surprised to see how quickly my requests were filled by the library. The first one I will tackle is Act of Treason, a novel by Vince Flynn.

This is kind of an experiment with me. I've never been into contemporary popular writers such as Mr. Flynn, and the thriller has never thrilled me. The exception to this has been the film version of The Spy Who Came In From the Cold, based on the novel by John le Carré. From what I saw it was not just interested in the details of espionage work, but also on the toll such works takes on the individual.

I don't know if Flynn will take us into the heart of his main character, Mitch Rapp, but I am curious as to why his books are so popular. As I understand it, Rapp is the central character in a series of novel, and Act of Treason is one of the more recent ones. It will be interesting to see if one needs to know a great deal of Rapp's background to follow the plot. My belief, having just started the unabridged audio version of Act of Treason, is that I, the reader, do not have to know Rapp's early years to understand his motivations or thought process.

There's one thing I like about Flynn's work already: Mitch Rapp. One thing I have always taken to heart about writing is that names of characters can tell you so much about the character him/herself. Doesn't 'Tom Sawyer' sound like a young, mischievous lad? 'Sherlock Holmes' is the name of a highly intelligent, aloof, persona; 'Miss Marple' give the impression of a sweet old lady (even if her mind is razor-sharp). In the same way, 'Mitch Rapp' sounds like a man of action, who, like a song from Van Halen says, 'ain't got time to mess around'. Mitch. Rapp. Monosyllabic. Short. Simple. Direct. He's not 'Mitchell', which sounds more elite. 'Mitch' is the name of a guy's guy: one who isn't afraid of challenges. He's got a job to do, and the niceties of the law won't get in the way of what needs to be done.

There are things I've learned about Vince Flynn (curiously, a name that is also monosyllabic) that impress me. He's been open about his dyslexia, and it makes it even more impressive that someone with the disability has made a successful career in writing. My hat goes off to him. I also admire the fact that he left a very secure job to pursue his passion for storytelling. That takes a great deal of personal courage--moving into a venture where failure is a strong possibility is not for the faint-hearted. I gather that he writes from his convictions, and that these thrillers around counter-terrorism agent Rapp come from his worldview: that terrorists (usually Islamofascists but not exclusively) are threatening the country he loves and that at times extra-legal actions are needed to secure the nation. A writer should always be convinced of his own works.

I see his face and this is a tough man, a strong man, one who (like Rapp) isn't afraid of a fight. I imagine he's the type whom I could go and get a couple of drinks with, then go and visit the family. Yet I digress. What about Act of Treason? As I said, I've barely started it, so it's impossible to make an assessment of the work. I want to be a more open-minded fellow, to step away from the biographies and mysteries that I'm more fond of. That being the case, I hope to enjoy Act of Treason, and once finished I will share my thoughts on it, on Mitch Rapp, and Vince Flynn.

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