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Act of Treason - Vince Flynn

Act of Treason

Author: Vince Flynn
Book title: Act of Treason
ISBN: 1428115846
ISBN13: 978-1428115842
Publisher: Recorded Books (2006)
Language: English
Rating: 4.1/5
Votes: 116
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Reviews: (7)
This book is written like pro wrestling: it's so melodramatic that it's barely believable, but every movement is very slow and large so everybody can figure out what is going on. The audience is given time to examine every move as it happens and to absorb every grunt and groan. It takes one character twenty pages to enter a room, an action that would have been over in two minutes. I suspect Flynn of writing under the influence of Proust.

Flynn is a person who really, REALLY cares about Starbucks. He grows rhapsodic every time anybody gets a cup of coffee, if and only if they get it in Starbucks. He pours out scathing scorn on independent coffee shops and their patrons. His love for Starbucks is outdone only by his hate for conservationists and people who want a healthy environment. Evidently he dislikes fresh air and clean water as strongly as independent coffee shops. Perhaps you don't need clean water when you can get coffee from Starbucks.

Flynn does exhibit humor, of the deadpan, tongue in cheek variety. I guffawed at how he reverently introduced jujitsu like it wasn't centuries out of date; to hear him talk, you'd think it was some dangerous martial art that could actually be used in the real world. Rapp was presented with a black belt `after a solid month of training and fighting'! Wow! A whole, solid month?? Oooh! Was it one of the 31 day months, or a wimpy 28er like February?

The author's English is not very good. He misuses words and makes grammatical mistakes. For instance, in Chapter 26 we read, `The people who flocked to San Diego sunk their money into real estate.' Ok everybody, repeat after me, ring rang rung, sing sang sung, sink sank sunk. They sank their money into real estate, not sunk. Flynn should have thunk about that one. The editor had probably already fallen asleep.

Or maybe the editor was too busy trying to cheer Flynn up. Look at the scowl on his face in the author photo. He looks like somebody who's got the runs and just discovered the bathroom door is locked and the key is missing. Why was he in such a bad mood? Maybe just before the photo session he reread his book and asked the photographer, They're going to put my name on this?


And my photo?


So people will know who I am?


So my neighbors might read this?


My family might read this?


My high school English teacher might read this?

Either Vince Flynn is the worst writer to ever make the New York times Bestseller list or this is a brilliant parody of a troubled super federal agent thriller including poor editing and grammar. It reminds me of someone describing the story of a movie they have just seen. It violates the first rule of creative writing "show, don't tell" from beginning to end. The plotting is manipulative: a loner super agent is forced to go into danger alone because his team is stuck in traffic. Action sequences are interrupted by unnecessary explanations of the hero's extraordinary training/experience and simple minded presentations of today's global political problems suitable for a radio talk show. I usually pass books on to my insomniac brother-in-law but this one goes in the trash. If you liked this book you are lucky because you have hundreds of better ones to look forward to reading from writers with far better imaginations and writing skills.
Still In Mind
During the heat of a presidential election a terrorist group in the Middle East threatens violence to try to influence the results. Some weeks before the election is to take place a car bomb goes off near one of the presidential candidate's motorcades and kills the wife of the presidential candidate and dozens of innocent bystanders. The voters decide that they won't be pushed around by terrorists and vote in the presidential candidate who was attacked. Mitch Rapp and his friends at the CIA are left to uncover the plot as ruthless and dangerous people are afoot. Sounds like a great thriller but Act of Treason is not up to the standard we expect from Vince Flynn.

Vince Flynn deserves a lot of credit for an almost prophetic handle on the continuing war on terror. Before the 9-11 attacks Flynn had written novels about militant Wahhabism attacking the United States. While on the book tour for his last book, Consent to Kill, Vince Flynn talked about secret CIA prisons where Iraqi and Afghani insurgents and terrorists where interrogated outside the view of the public eye. A year later there were stories in the popular press about those same secret prisons. Flynn has been a bestselling author thanks to his research and his connections to U.S. servicemen out in the field. He combines his solid research with a great storytelling ability which typically makes all of his novels thrilling page turners.

Act of Treason abandons some of the formulas that have worked so well for Mr. Flynn in the past. Vince plays around with different themes. In his past works there was the "ticking time bomb" mentality which has driven much of the motivations for the protagonist Mitch Rapp. Flynn also tries to tackle the controversies that plague presidential administrations as they close, especially presidential pardons. In fact, much of the plot of the book involves pardons in a thinly veiled discussion of all the last minute pardons of the Clinton Administration.

Without the immediacy of a clear threat against the United States, the reader is left wondering why there is such a hurry. Can't Mitch Rapp just take his time killing all the bad guys? Unlike in most of Flynn's previous books like Memorial Day, there's no climatic finish where at the last possible moment the U.S. is saved from disaster. In reality, the only pressures which push us to the end of the novel is to see how everything is played out. Even in this department Act of Treason is lacking.

The novel doesn't actually resolve itself. Early on the reader is made to think Flynn is going to take on the philosophy of many liberals that terrorism is a law enforcement issue and not a military issue. At one point it even looked like there would be a court scene involving a torture case. Flynn even had a chance to play around with the ideas of the new online journalists like Matt Drudge and their effect on public opinion. None of these possibilities ever panned out. Flynn wasn't interested in testing out those waters at all.

This book had so much potential for Flynn to expand his scope as a novelist and tackle some very big and complex issues. Instead those were glossed over and even forgotten by the end of the book. Sure, the book was still very readable and had some entertaining points. It just lacked the page turning qualities that made Vince a bestseller while it didn't show any expansion in his possibilities as a novelist. Would I still recommend reading it? Probably not for any but the most fanatical Mitch Rapp fans. Those new to Vince Flynn novels are best off looking to his earlier works to fully appreciate how good Vince Flynn can be.
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