For Vince Flynn fans, The Survivor couldn't get here soon enough - but then there was also that underlying sense of dread. No one could be Vince Flynn. Would Mitch be Mitch? Irene, Irene? Stan Hurley? You get the idea. So it is with both some reservation and glee that I admit Kyle Mills took on a huge task in contracting to continue Vince's epic tales of Mitch Rapp, counterterrorism, the CIA, and killing bad guys, and, while not actually duplicating Vince's writing and voice, Kyle Mills came very close. Close enough to make the interminable wait for the next installment seem way too long - just like it did when Vince would release his latest Mitch Rapp novel.
The Survivor picks up where Vince's final book The Last Man left off. A rogue operative Joe Rickman, who Director Irene Kennedy describes as brilliant but troubled, is trying to destroy the CIA and Irene Kennedy from the grave. And Pakistan's new ISI director wants the information Rickman is dispatching from an encrypted email service via a law firm in Switzerland and will send his assistant anywhere he must to get it.
The storyline, complex, historical, loaded with information, reminds me of a few of Vince's 14 novels where it was necessary to do fill-in facts to accentuate why certain actions were required. Other characters, good and evil, are allowed to develop their misguided plans for the reader's purview. Although this is a method Vince used and Kyle does it well, the obvious strength and attraction in these thrillers is Mitch Rapp so when the story veers away from him for any length of time, occasionally it drags. Not badly and not for long.
Irene and Mitch must put significant pressure on their world-class hacker Marcus Dumond to find how, who, and from where the information is surfacing. The Pakistani's gained a head start under the new direction of the ISI, a man who's fooled most everyone, including the president of Pakistan, by his deferential act, but he's a ruthless killer who wants to bring down America and rule the world with Sharia Law.
Readers will mourn the loss of a favorite character, will follow Mitch and his team (Scott Coleman and friends) to Switzerland, Rome, Russia, and Pakistan in between brief stops at Langley. The pressure to obtain this list Rickman is exposing name by name, forces difficult operations with less planning than is satisfactory to both Rapp and Irene.
In The Survivor Mitch does some serious soul-searching, trying to evaluate his life at 44. He's tired of living in the past, in that sense of mourning, believing he can't revive the kind of life he experienced with his deceased wife Anna but wanting to somehow move forward. To exactly where he's unsure. He always has an exit strategy, but he's not even sure of it. The way Kyle captures Rapp's mental state rings true.
In The Survivor he's still the same Mitch Rapp, a little older, a little more impatient when patience was never his strong suit anyway. There's action, a familiar hated nemesis, despicable politicians, always a new enemy, and a lot of globetrotting.
Vince Flynn created the larger than life character of Mitch Rapp and put him in epic circumstances with authentic writing. No one did it better than Vince. He is missed.
KyleMills took on the gargantuan challenge and survived it! He captured the Rapp we've loved and continued the amazing portrait of Irene Kennedy. He's to be commended for his work on The Survivor. I look forward to his next effort to continue the legacy of Vince Flynn and to share in his grand telling of the CIA's deadliest operative Mitch Rapp.
****This is a rerun, the prelude to the coming review of Order to Kill****
Father, please continue to bless the writing of Kyle Mills, and please give Vince a hug from all of us who are devoted to the work he did. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I once wrote a final episode for the Magnum P.I. series. It wasn't anything like the real final episode. Mine was better. At least I liked it better. I know many have written stories for the Star Trekseries. I confess it's a lot of fun making scenes and putting together stories for ready-made characters I've come to know and love.
So I wonder what it's been like for Kyle Mills to continue the epic character of Mitch Rapp. While daunting and challenging, I'm sure he's having an exciting time renewing Mitch in dangerous circumstances, contemplating his aging body (though not old by any sense, just having suffered a lot of abuse over the years), his singleness and loneliness, his direct boss or handler Irene who he's come to love and trust even though they suffer through his occasional insubordination and frequent recklessness. I would've loved to help write one novel just to find the right woman for Rapp. I knew her in my mind's eye - she was perfect for him unlike the former women in his life.
There's a scene in Order to Kill on page 51 of Chapter 6 which captures Mitch Rapp exquisitely. Although I've said Kyle Mills has done a very good job of continuing Vince Flynn's legacy, this short scene proves Kyle has made Rapp his own. It's perfect and put a smile on my face.
So, Kyle Mills has essentially embraced his role as the author of meaningful fan fiction and so far has achieved success for those of us who felt the loss of the fabulous Vince Flynn deeply.
I'm taking my time with this one because I know it's going to be a long time before the next one . . . always too long.
Father, please continue to give Kyle Mills exactly what he needs to continue these meaningful stories. Help him in every way and bless his efforts to write the reality of who Mitch Rapp is. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
In Christian fiction a few years ago it was trending to write stories which alternated between the past and present. Susan Meissner did several novels in this style. I can't speak for general market fiction or which authors participated in this style or if it remained a solid trend. In The Girl in the GlassJames Hayman opted for this technique and managed to tell an interesting tale, perhaps my favorite of his, even though I don't really share any enthusiasm for this literary style.
Yes, the book contained bad language and, yes, a few explicit sexual encounters, but he didn't linger on them this time which was a definite improvement in spite of them - the few graphics unnecessary as usual. In the historical account two young lovers, an American artist studying in Paris (where else?) meets the daughter of the instructor of the Academy where he's enrolled and proceeds to fall headlong into love/lust with her. They marry and move to Maine where he assumes his role in his wealthy family business. His artistic talents left behind, she (Aimee) takes a lover, another artist, and their affair infiltrates her marriage. Her husband Edward threatens to never allow her to see their children again if she refuses to end it.
Swing forward to present day where one of the current Edward's two daughters happens to be the spitting image of her great, great grandmother, and named for her, is capsulized in a painting from yesteryear of the woman whose genes were passed on to her.
McCabe and Savage are called to the scene of the murder of a young woman and from there the plot thickens as they say. So many suspects, but one of them is soon found dead. To make the search even more difficult, they learn part of the history of her heritage and try to determine who else would've known it well enough to construct the murder scene.
Internally, McCabe is now "single" again and not handling it well. His daughter Casey is graduating from high school, and he knows she will be traveling to Brown University courtesy of his ex-wife's rich husband which is doubly hard for him to swallow since, once again, his ex has opted to make a prestigious business trip to London with her husband instead of honoring her promise to Casey to show up for her graduation.
Savage is perpetually single, unable to find the "it" guy, but is mildly interested in one of the suspects much to McCabe's dislike.
When Savage escapes serious injury in her pursuit of the real suspect, between McCabe and her, they finally are able to narrow down just who this guy is and proceed accordingly.
Between more murders, expected and unexpected, it's a messy case with an abundance of suspects. Police work, hunches, failures, and disappointments produce the desired end result with much debris left in its wake.
McCabe and Savage attempt to carry on with their personal lives after solving the case, but their options seem limited and unsatisfactory. Another good mystery with a unique touch. Leave out the profane and explicit material, and you've got a great story.
Father, only you know our hearts and can reach our souls. Please continue to pursue those who use your talent and bless them with the knowledge and beauty of knowing you. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Father, please bless each one I've listed here. You know the ins and outs of their lives right now, exactly what they need. Please provide for their specific needs and continue to bless and protect each one. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I think I can say with some certainty that by now most people are weary of politics. It has degenerated into a war of words and many people have simply backed out of social media where any political discussion appears. Others simply don't engage and hold their opinions close to the vest as the cliché goes. You can count me among the weary, but unlike many of you - and I don't blame you - I am not silent on Twitter and Facebook. Here, I've chosen not to post political opinions until today.
I'm angry. I'm mad because there are certain issues which shouldn't even warrant a debate, but they've produced staunch advocates on opposite sides. The fact that abortion is used as a campaign promise under the guise of protective healthcare for women is nauseating and despicable, but it is promoted and advocated under that umbrella by those who choose the Democrat candidates. That anyone should be allowed to carve a baby out of a womb seems absurd, but it is championed by members of the Democrat party. That after murdering a child at any stage of development the barbaric butchery of their body parts can be sold like carburetors or transmissions and should disgust even the basest of human beings. Yet the Democrat party defends the funding of Planned Parenthood by taxpayer money.
That under the present aggressions of the ISIS agenda, anything less than open borders should be called "un-American" ranks right up there with traitorous. Yet, it is a favorite of the Democrat party.
That the continuation of restrictions on the First Amendment regarding the freedom to be a Christian at public schools when Muslims are given special rights to enact their belief systems at public schools adds another hypocrisy to the current public school system of propaganda and indoctrination policies adhered to by the Democrat party.
The excessive taxation of the American people to fund such incredibly unnecessary programs like Planned Parenthood and innumerable other wasteful endeavors only cause the desire for more taxes for more spending while incurring a record $19 Trillion in debt to China. How can this be? This is the perpetual desire of the Democrat party.
Those of us who know Jesus Christ as our Lord, our Savior, aren't immune from the sadness or the worry. We are fallible, sometimes fragile, even faith-less at times. We can know what's right. We can experience confusion when doing our best to enact it in our lives. Sometimes it seems like there's no way to enact right, that every choice seems wrong. But in the simplest of terms, there are a few things which help us see a right way.
It is right to promote life. We have no business and no right to take a life. Life belongs to God. We're not talking fighting wars here or defending oneself. We're talking a child in the womb. Children are precious to the Lord.
It is right to secure our country in light of evil forces ruled by a demonic horde. It's not prejudicial, it's careful and discerning.
It's right to eliminate ridiculous and unscrupulous spending just as it's right to be a just guardian of the monies collected from the people of this nation.
It's right to insist that able-bodied and able-minded people work for a living in order to provide for their own needs, not steal from those who've determined to do their best at whatever jobs they have to earn a living and provide for their own families.
It's right to take care of the least of the society if they are truly unable to take care of themselves.
I am weary of the evil which is why I'm so vocal elsewhere. In light of the intense seriousness of this election, I'm doing this now because it's a critical election for each of us, for our country's very survival. We cannot perpetuate the current evil.
We can pray for God's renewal. We couldn't be more desperate for Him. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I know over the years I've exhausted the formula of creating romance novels and I've probably overdosed on the topic of "conflict" in writing fiction. But, seriously, the professionals emphasize and re-emphasize the importance and necessity of conflict, and romance novels are filled with it. How much is too much?
I mean, why can't people communicate with each other? That single issue seems to be the root of conflict in most romantic fiction - and it drives me nuts. So, again, how much is too much?
Father, it's the age old problem of being truthful without being inconsiderate. Help us to be honest in our communications with each other. And help us to be authentic people who write authentically. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
How many novels have you read more than once? I can only recall two, both by Kristen Heitzmann, Secrets and Unforgotten. I loved Lance Michelli. I've read portions of novels over again. Some many times, but I've only read those two entire books over again, right after I finished them. An amazing experience I've never been inclined to do again - until reading The Waves Break Gray . . .
Father, thank you again and again for the amazing creativity you give so generously to your writers. I'm in awe of how you inspire and encourage. May those who use your skills know and recognize that apart from you, we can do nothing. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
One day Jesus said to his disciples, "Let's go over to the other side of the lake." So they got into a boat and set out. As they sailed, he fell asleep. A squall came down on the lake, so that the boat was being swamped and they were in great danger.
The disciples went and woke him, saying, "Master, Master, we're going to drown!"
He got up and rebuked the wind and the raging waters; the storm subsided, and all was calm. "Where is your faith?" he asked his disciples.
In fear and amazement they asked one another, "Who is this? He commands even the winds and the water, and they obey him."
What makes some writing more impacting than others? What makes us appreciate certain authors and leads us to read all their books? Writers tend to give specific responses to questions such as these. Readers often give less tangible answers.
Having just read Sibella Giorello'sThe Waves Break Gray, I'm reminded how much I've missed her character Raleigh Harmon. And I caught myself exploring the two questions posed above. So . . . here are my thoughts and answers:
Sibella packs an enormous amount of emotional pain into the understated Raleigh Harmon. Establishing the long-term requirement of keeping her emotions in check due to her mother's mental illness and adding the same discipline when employed as an agent for the FBI, Raleigh is anything but the hysterical female. She's constantly suppressing her emotions in order to function at a high level and not give away the agony she often experiences on the inside.
She's had to hone her toughness just to survive her pain and this survival instinct keeps her somewhat unable to admit and handle her feelings for Jack. She can't take any more rejection in her life so she stifles her attraction and longing for him and pretends not to care when she thinks Jack has someone else in his life, attempting to distance herself from him to alleviate more pain. All of this is written perfectly, authentically, capturing the pure emotion of this young woman who's torn apart by a mother who can't be one to her and never has been and the additional misinterpretation of what she and Jack feel for each other.
Besides the terrific character building of her heroine, the language is elevated and uncommon, using beautiful, stark, or shocking metaphors to describe scenes or items or the expressions on people's faces. I can see, smell, hear, or taste what Sibella presents. At times I'm in awe of her descriptions.
Adding to the list, the dialogue brings the characters into acute focus. We know them from their expressions and words. Raleigh's internal dialogue is always honest and self-punishing. No one is harder on her than she is. Yet she manages to conduct herself as a true professional, reading people well with her discernment, not above suspecting most everyone and can wield sarcasm like a sword but generally selects the right tone for each individual.
There are my answers as to why Sibella Giorello is one of my most favorite authors.
Father, once again I ask for your blessings upon Sibella. Pour out your Spirit on her life. Fill her up with your presence, I pray. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
Raleigh Harmon's emotional pain bleeds from the page like a severed artery.
How can it be that a young woman so eager but afraid to give love, who empathizes with the grief-stricken, who searches out the truth no matter the personal cost, who wants so desperately to find what it takes to be loved, can't find the key to that elusive and most basic of needs?
The Waves Break Gray is the kind of book you don't want to end, but you want to put a tourniquet on the pain, you want to keep reading but you have to set it down because it hurts too much to continue, and you're almost praying for a good ending but fear it won't happen.
Raleigh Harmon resigned from the FBI but still does consulting work for them in forensic geology. Jack still works for the FBI and insists he and Raleigh are "two of a kind". Captivated by Jack, Raleigh fights falling hard, but it's too late, and she knows it.
Raleigh and her mother's dog "Madame" live with a grand old woman (Eleanor) who used to do theater and met Raleigh when she worked a case at the racetrack involving Eleanor's race horses. The unique relationship affords Raleigh the use of Eleanor's classic sports car which she uses to get to her new case in Leavenworth and up to the asylum where her paranoid schizophrenic mom now lives. The excruciating and demanding visits with Madame to see her mother produce the intense pain she's endured since her childhood. That singular rejection haunts Raleigh every day of her life and influences her thoughts and actions bringing both vulnerability and cynicism to her approaches in nearly every circumstance. A scene at the asylum after yet another rejection will bring tears to your eyes and point to the novel's title.
I would love to tell you more and quote some of the superb writing in this novel, but there's just too much. With an unusual plot twist I never saw coming, The Waves Break Gray goes from frustrating to bizarre. Fascinating and rewarding, the ending is perfect, and now it will be very difficult to wait for the next Raleigh Harmon Mystery. If you love these books, this one will both break your heart and make you cheer.
Thank you, Sibella, for another Raleigh Harmon story that exceeds the norm for today's mysteries and re-establishes Raleigh as the best female character in contemporary literature.
Lord, I don't believe anyone can write this kind of pain without having known it at some point, so my prayer is that any residual pain in Sibella's life will be fully healed by your amazing grace. Please continue to bless her life, her family, her creativity and outstanding talent with your divine touch. Keep her safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
I'm savoring the new Raleigh Harmon novel. I've maintained that Sibella Giorello's Raleigh Harmon is one of the finest female characters in contemporary literature. Strong yet vulnerable, she's unique and psychologically deep and wounded. This is an excellent series by a truly gifted writer. You should start with the prequels and read all the way through the Raleigh Harmon Mysteries.
Father, please continue to bless Sibella. She writes emotional pain so well. If she carries it personally, I pray you would make her burdens light as only you can do. Encourage her, strengthen her, and keep her safe from all harm. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.
BK Jackson got me thinking with her comment on Friday's post (What is it with sex?). She said in a question, "Maybe people who write don't KNOW how to bridge that gap between vulgar and non-existent or dry?"
Interesting concept. The reason being because some authors/writers appear not to know how to bridge that gap, others definitely want to maintain a wide gap and prefer non-existent sexual intimations in scenes where they would appear natural or authentic while still others want to push every titillating sexual button with their words and descriptions. Between the prudish and the vulgar, there should be an acceptable middle ground, but there is not. And I would venture there never will be. Those who prefer to use zero sexual words or references and those who write explicit sexual scenes have only one thing in common and that is story. How they set out to write the story purposely differs.
Inherently different in their approaches, they're appealing to totally opposite audiences. And any writer who's done any serious contemplation of their desired readers knows what they want from their audience and what their readers will want from them.
I cannot imagine why readers desire to read sexually graphic fiction. The only thing I've been able to come up with is for them to be able to fantasize the experience - to allow the explicit descriptions to virtually turn them on. If you have another reason, I'd love to hear it because apparently there are an abundance of readers who seek secular fiction for this purpose. If that's not the case, then why would they continue to read the enormous amount of literature with those scenes in them?
In the opposite camp are those readers who somehow have concluded that anything sexual or sensuous in literature is sinful and shame on the author who includes any mention of a sexual attraction or action. The market for those novels may not be as large as those who read secular/general market fiction, but they're a powerful lobby in Christian fiction and can find an ample supply of their purist novels.
If you're a reader and/or a writer, I'd love to hear your opinions on this topic.
Father, you created sex and mankind perverted it. You are the author of everything good and perfect, beautiful and trustworthy. And we pervert it all. Please forgive us, Lord, and help each of us who write to seek after beauty, truth, grace, and mercy with our words. In the Name of Jesus, Amen.