In the spring of 2011, I read Vince Flynn’s political thriller, Protect and Defend.
I’ve heard of the author and the book’s plot sounded interesting. After reading the book, I thought it was so cheesy and stupid that I practically swore off the author. It felt like one cliché after another. However, for some reason still unknown to me, I recently picked up one of Flynn’s earlier books in the series and gave it a fair shot.
And this book was much better.
Today I finished reading Transfer of Power, the first book in Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series. Why did I resume this series with Flynn’s second book and his his first one? Well, I haven’t found the first book in my usual places . . . yet.
The book begins with series hero and special agent, Mitch Rapp, conducting a raid with Navy SEALs. Out in Iran they kill a few terrorists and capture Fara Harut, a terrorist leader. Special forces helicopters safely extract the commandos and their prisoner while enemies from all angles fire upon the troops.
In Washington, D.C., terrorist leader Rafique Aziz is in the final stages of preparing an elaborate attack upon the mother of all targets. After a long time planning, things are finally in place. Aziz is cleverly disguised as an important fundraiser for the current political party in control of the government. He’s in the Oval Office and preparing to meet President Robert Hayes.
While this is taking place, Mitch Rapp is flying back to Washington with Fara Harut. The CIA is already in the process of interrogating the prisoner, and they quickly learn of a devastating attack that’s about to take place. Sure enough, terrorists are planning on attacking the White House that very day.
And then the terrorists strike.
Rafique Aziz’s men receive an electronic signal and launch their attack upon the White House. One of the terrorist snipes at Secret Service agents while other terrorists use explosives to breach into a secret tunnel that leads to a White House basement. They successfully make their way into the most secure of buildings, killing everybody who stands in their way. Just as Aziz is about to attack President Hayes, Secret Service agents receive an alert from the CIA, and they rush into the Oval Office and hurry the president downstairs to his secure bunker.
Aziz is unable to capture the president, but his men are able to secure the White House and capture about a hundred prisoners, from reporters to White House staff to Secret Service agents. The terrorists wire the doors and windows with explosives and hunker down for the expected siege.
Exactly as they wanted.
While Vice President Baxter assumes the presidency and begins to figure out how to deal with the terrorists, Aziz launches another vital part of his overall plan. Expecting the president to make it to his bunker, Aziz has a highly trained safe cracker begin working on the secure doors holding the president and his Secret Service agents safe. While politicians are deliberating, the safe cracker keeps making progress to ultimately opening the secure doors.
The majority of Transfer of Power deals with Mitch Rapp as he deals with the terrorists in the White House. After befriending Milt Adams, an older gentleman who used to work in the White House, the two of them use a buried ventilation shaft to sneak into the building. While investigating the second floor, Rapp kills a terrorist and saves young reporter, Anna Reilly, from a brutal attack. From then on he uses the two of them to help him place surveillance equipment throughout the building and help the Pentagon coordinate a rescue.
The battle with terrorists isn’t the only battle taking place in the story.
In Transfer of Power, the Democrats are in charge of the government. While President Hayes is more center-oriented with his views and policies, his vice president has more radical views. Vice President Baxter, along with Dallas King (his chief of staff) and Attorney General Marge Tutwiler, attempt to use appeasement to meet Aziz’s demands for money and the elimination of U.N. sanctions against Iraq in exchange for hostages. You can guess how well that strategy works.
It’s a battle of wits, strategy, and ultimately well-timed firepower that bring about an end to the terrorists in Transfer of Power. While Mitch Rapp conducts reconnaissance in the White House, staying on edge for the terrorists, his leaders in the CIA are battling with Vice President Baxter’s crew in matters of how to handle the situation. You feel for Rapp’s frustration and inability to deal with the problems, and there’s a bit of satisfaction when he finally gets the green light to assist the commandos and start killing terrorists.
Transfer of Power is basically the movie Die Hard set in the White House. Actually, Milt Adams is more like the helpful airport engineer in Die Hard 2, but you get the picture. Terrorists gain control of an important structure and it’s basically a single soldier who saves the day.
Part of what makes Transfer of Power interesting is that despite all of the terrorist talk that we know today, the book was actually published back in 1999.
As a whole, Transfer of Power is an enjoyable read. The plot moves at a quick pace, most of the characters and situations are believable, and the small action segments are satisfying. Although the paperback edition of the book clocks in at about 550 pages, you’ll be finished with the book in no time.
One of the biggest downsides to Transfer of Power is that like Protect and Defend, Vince Flynn rushes to the conclusion. It’s like he realizes that there are only ten minutes left to finish the writing assignment, so he just scribbles a quick solution. The story feels incomplete once the commandos begin raiding the White House in the end of the book. This includes the wimpy epilogue that attempts to wrap up loose ends.
Flynn could have had an outstanding story had the ending not been so rushed. Rapp’s pursuit of Aziz is almost another story in itself, but that’s practically omitted here. The epilogue just mentions the final few minutes of Rapp’s lengthy pursuit and ultimate finishing off of the terrorist leader. It’s hard to get that ultimate feeling of satisfaction when the author stops telling the story.
At some point soon I’ll read another Vince Flynn book. In the meantime, it’s time to jump to a different author.