GENRE KRYPTONITE: Vince Flynn — A Poor Man’s Tom Clancy

Greg Zimmerman

Staff Writer

Greg Zimmerman blogs about contemporary literary fiction at The New Dork Review of Books and holds down a full-time gig as a trade magazine editor. Follow him on Twitter: @NewDorkReview.

We thought Kit’s post about the genres we have an inexplicable weak spot for was so inspired that we thought it should be a regular feature. Here’s the second installment.


If you’re like me, and you’re a left-leaning, literary-fiction lover who openly derides silly novels with cheesy dialogue and preposterous plot twists, then there’s no earthly reason you’d like Vince Flynn’s series of CIA thrillers. But you know what? I love ’em.

Oh, and here’s another thing, Dan Brown — he of  The Da Vinci Whatsit and The Lost Something Or Other fame, who happens to be the worst offender of cheesy dialogue and preposterous plot twists — frequently blurbs Flynn’s novels, calling him “the king of high-concept political intrigue.” Now, I’m not sure if Brown understands the meaning of the term “high-concept,” but if Flynn is that, then Nicolas Sparks is friggin’ Tolstoy. But I still love ’em.

If you’re unfamiliar, Flynn’s novels — and there are 12 of them in the series now — follow CIA agent extraordinaire Mitch Rapp as he ass-kicks his way around the world…a post 9/11 world he never made (cue movie trailer music). His methods are questionable, but his commitment to freedom is not. He’s got a job to do, dammit, and no desk jockey politician in Washington is going to tell him how to do it.

I’ve read seven of the 12, and I can tell you, even as you giggle at Mitch saying things like “I’m going to do what someone should have done a long time ago,” and even as you wonder why a professional assassin who takes every security precaution possible would go into a Starbucks right before his hit (and therefore allow himself to appear on security cameras), you can’t stop reading. Some are better than others, sure. But I’m tellin’ you, these novels really make a plane trip fly by. Check ’em out.

Have you read ’em? What do you think? What other novels scratch your thriller itch?