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Sunday, July 28, 2013

Remembering Vince Flynn

“It's this upside-down world that we live in where we afford political correctness to the most intolerant group of individuals on the planet.” — Vince Flynn

Last month (June 19) Vince Flynn passed away after losing his battle with prostate cancer. The 47-year old author of the famous Mitch Rapp series of political thrillers is survived by his wife and three children.

I first became acquainted with Flynn’s writing in 1998 with “Term Limits”, his first book. Term Limits was a novel about a group of ex-Navy SEALS who were assassinating U. S. Senators and government officials in retribution for their leaking information about a raid where several SEALS were killed. In this book Flynn, like Tom Clancy and, Brian Haig, Brad Thor, were a bit ahead of the curve. (See Extortion 17)

This was quite a radical novel at the time as it portrayed the SEALS as the heroes of the book who were eventually given cover by the CIA for their actions. The book was on the New York Times best seller list for several weeks.

It was in his second book, Transfer of Power, that Flynn introduced us to his iconic anti-terrorism operative, Mitch Rapp, and his boss at the CIA Irene Kennedy. The stories in his next 11 books were centered around these two characters.

The fifth of seven children, Vince Flynn was born in St. Paul, Minnesota, on April 6, 1966. He graduated from the Saint Thomas Academy in 1984, and the University of St. Thomas with a degree in economics in 1988.

After college he went to work for Kraft General Foods where he was an account and sales marketing specialist.

In 1990 Vince Flynn left Kraft to accept an aviation candidate slot with the United States Marine Corps. However, one week before leaving for Officers Candidate School, he was medically disqualified from the Marine Aviation Program, due to several concussions and convulsive seizures he suffered as a child following a car accident. While trying to obtain a medical waiver for his condition, he started thinking about writing a book, an unusual choice for Flynn since he had been diagnosed with dyslexia in grade school and had struggled with reading and writing all his life.

Having been turned down by the Marine Corps, Flynn returned to the work598px-VinceFlynnByPhilKonstantin force and took a job with United Properties, a commercial real estate company in the Twin Cities. During his spare time he worked on an idea he had for a book. After two years with United Properties he decided to devote himself full time to writing: he quit his job, moved to Colorado, and began working full time on what would eventually become his first novel, Term Limits.

While writing Term Limits, Flynn supported himself by bartending at night. After five years and more than sixty rejection letters, he decided to self-publish, which was not as common at that time as it is today. Term Limits went to number one in the Twin Cities area, and within a week Flynn had an agent and garnered a two-book deal with Emily Bestler of Pocket Books, a Simon & Schuster imprint.

First Published by Pocket Books in 1997, Term Limits was a New York Times bestseller in paperback. Since then, his books became perennial bestsellers in hardcover, paperback, and electronic editions, and since the publication of Protect and Defend in 2007, have regularly been #1 New York Times bestsellers. Flynn’s novels have been praised for their extensive research and prescient warnings about the rise of Islamic Radical Fundamentalism and terrorism. His books have been read by current and former presidents, foreign heads of state, and intelligence professionals around the world, and are admired for their authenticity and imagination: one high-ranking CIA official told his staff, “I want you to read Flynn's books and start thinking about how we can more effectively wage this war on terror.”

Motion picture rights to Flynn’s character Mitch Rapp have been optioned by CBS Films with the intention of making a character-based, action-thriller movie franchise. Flynn was also an advisor for the Fox series 24 and in some was Kieffer Sutherland’s character, Jack Bauer, had a lot of Mitch Rapp in him.

The Survivor, Vince Flynn’s planned release this fall, is being postponed indefinitely. Vince had not yet completed the manuscript at the time of his passing last month. The reason it is “postponed indefinitely” as opposed to “canceled” is because it is too soon to know how much of the book was written or if Vince had plans or provisions in place in the event that he could not complete the book. This book may be published due to Flynn’s collaboration with best-selling author Brian Haig.

Here is a list of all of the books in the Mitch Rapp series:

Transfer of Power (1999)

The Third Option (2000)

Separation of Power (2001)

Executive Power (2003)

Memorial Day (2004)

Consent to Kill (2005)

Act of Treason (2006)

Protect and Defend (2007)

Extreme Measures (2008)

Pursuit of Honor (2009)

American Assassin (2010)

Kill Shot (2012)

The Last Man (2012)

The Survivor (2013 — unpublished)

You can read summaries of these books by clicking here I think you will find them interesting if you haven’t read the books and see how the character of Mitch Rapp evolved.

I have read all of the Vince Flynn books and each year I looked forward to his next novel about the adventures of Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy. Over the years I have seen Rapp and Kennedy more as real life people than as characters on the pages of a book. Flynn’s writing made them so.

Each book was an out-and-out page-turner. If you were reading a Flynn novel on a flight you were disappointed when the seat belt light came on an you were told you were about to land. You wanted your flight to last a little longer so you could get a few more chapters in. If you were reading the book at home you would find yourself looking at the clock and seeing it was 3 o’clock in the morning and telling yourself just one or two more chapters.

Mitch Rapp was the consummate American hero and terrorist hunter. He did not countenance politicians who were more concerned with their own image and power that the people of the United States. He was someone I hope we have on the government payroll somewhere. Irene Kennedy was Rapp’s governor and the intellectual and political half of the team. She could keep him under control while allowing him to carry forth his missions and protect him from the politicians. In the novel Protect and Defend Irene Kennedy is kidnapped by terrorists and Rapp will spare no one or waste one minute in his search to find her. And when he does — oh well you will have to read the book.

Rather than attempt to describe Mitch Rapp or Vince Flynn here are three videos of Vince Flynn describing himself and his character in his own words.

The first video has Flynn explain how Mitch Rapp became the terrorist-fighter be is.

In this next video Flynn talks about his 2008 book In Pursuit of Honor.

In this final video Flynn discusses Protect and Defend and talks a bit about himself.

Vince Flynn and his characters of Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy will be missed by millions of readers. It is now up to authors such as Brad Thor, Brian Haig, and Tom Clancy to carry on.

May God keep and bless Vince Flynn and his wife and children.

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