What I’ve Been Reading: American Assassin

What I’ve Been Reading: American Assassin

October 4, 2018

I was walking through that rare, hard-to-find thing called a “book store” a couple months ago. I like to buy used books, which are extremely cheap, but I also like to support book stores. So I walked past the bargain books section and saw an author and a title that interested me: Vince Flynn’s American Assassin. It brings together two things I like: Americans and, uh, the mystique of assassins. For $4.99, what could go wrong?

Well . . . the dialogue, for one. Every time I read one of these military/special ops novels, the dialogue is terrible. Maybe witty authors aren’t drawn to these topics. Everything Vince Flynn thought was clever seemed to come from the mind of a 19-year-old community college student.

The fictional story is about Mitch Rapp, a former big-time Syracuse lacrosse player who decided he wanted to go kill some bad guys. Naturally, he’s a prodigy who’s really good at punching and kicking and shooting things. He’s so good that his new boss hates him, because he’s just some punk kid who comes in all cocky and stuff. You know where this is going:

Bad guys get killed.

Yes, it’s predictable. No, it’s not clever. But I still might rent the movie, because Mitch Rapp (played by Dylan O’Brien) gets bossed around by Michael Keaton’s Stan Hurley, and Michael Keaton is awesome.


  1. GKblue
    Comments: 291
    Joined: 8/11/2015
    Oct 04, 2018 at 8:44 AM

    I was truly bummed when Vince Flynn died. It sucks that the dialog left you dissatisfied in this case.

    All character driven series will vary in quality from book to book and sometimes stretch credulity. Whether it be Rapp, Ryan, McGarvey, or even Hieronymos Bosch these books supply an escape and yeah you have to take things with a grain of salt.

    BTW as I read the the Rapp series I always visualized Hurley as similiar to Willem Defoe’s John Clark in the Ryan series.

    • gobluetwo
      Comments: 39
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Oct 04, 2018 at 8:35 PM

      I’ve been into Harvath (Brad Thor), Sigma Force (James Rollins), Roby/Reel and Decker (Baldacci), Pike Logan/Taskforce (Brad Taylor). Also picked up a book called The Reader by Traci Chee (more of a fantasy novel) which is surprisingly engaging. Looking forward to reading the next two installments of the trilogy. Also read the first Emma Caldridge novel by Jamie Freveletti and it was also quite fun. On my reading list. And I read the latest Brad Meltzer novel, Escape Artist, which I enjoyed.

      And you’re totally right – these are all escapist reading for me, although the storylines for many of these thrillers do feel very relevant and possible – particularly the latest Harvath novel, Spymaster.

    • gobluetwo
      Comments: 39
      Joined: 8/11/2015
      Oct 04, 2018 at 8:39 PM

      Also forgot to mention Barry Eisler. I’ve read all the John Rain novels and just (well, a few months ago) read the first Livia Lone novel. Fairly gritty compared to some other authors, but a good read.

      And, of course, I’ve read all the Lee Child/Reacher stuff.

      I’ve gotten through about half of the Vince Flynn/Mitch Rapp novels, also. Took a little break from it mainly b/c I was too lazy to get the next couple in actual book form from my library (i read the first several as ebooks), but running out of ebook content, so a trip to the library is in the cards for me soon.

  2. Avatar
    Comments: 245
    Joined: 12/24/2016
    Oct 04, 2018 at 11:53 PM

    Maybe a reason for bad dialogue, etc in special ops novels is because so few, if any, of the authors have ever served in the military little lone a special ops unit. They’re not Ian Fleming dreaming up James Bond – Fleming actually served in a British secret intel unit……….

    Even the acting in many action military movies is bad except for guys like R. Lee Ermy or Lee Marvin who was actually wounded at Guadalcanal. They get it.
    Relative to footbal or any sports for that matter – I’ve always laughed at players & coaches who use military/warrior metaphors to describe their sport as some manner of ‘combat’ – really does make me laugh – out loud sometimes. Especially football, tho.

    Biggest difference between a football game & real combat is in real combat you better have your game plan & play together prior because once the shit hits the fan NO ONE is going to let you call “TIME OUT!” Or “HELP Mr. WIZARD!” Yes, I’m a firm believer that football should disallow Red Zone Time Outs. Have your shit together before you’re in there or suffer the fucking consequences………
    Jez sayin………INTJohn

  3. Avatar
    Comments: 17
    Joined: 9/28/2015
    Oct 05, 2018 at 1:55 AM

    What happened to your book list link? I thought you kept a cumulative list of all the titles you’ve read over the life of this website.

    Maybe it’s here somewhere, but in lieu of me searching for it, I’ll risk redundancy by pointing out a ~15 year old sci-fi novel called Óld Man’s War’

    This is sort of like having a book about American’s and books about Assassins except it’s about old people who decide to consign themselves to the íntergalactic defense forces (CDF in the book) and save the human races colonial efforts in space.

    To qualify for the CDF, you must be 75 yrs old. You can sign up for 2 yrs of space military service, but the CDF has the right to re-up you for 10 years. Which is of course very intriguing to a bunch of geriatrics who don’t necessarily expect to live to see their 85th birthday, let the possibility of being needed for some greater cause at that age.

    The implications are appealing to those in their golden years, but the details are unknown. No one who signs up is ever allowed to return to Earth. It’s in the enlistment contract.

    Once I picked up this book, I couldn’t put it down. Am now onto a tangentially related follow-on called ‘Ghost Brigades’ which is also entertaining although perhaps not as riveting for the novel (sic) concept.

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