by | Sep 20, 2019 | The Real Book Spy | 5 comments

I’ve written extensively over the years about both Mitch Rapp and his creator, the legendary Vince Flynn, and the impact that they’ve had on me. 
It’s honestly no stretch to say that without Vince and Mitch, there would be no Real Book Spy. Flynn sparked my love for the genre, and though he passed away in the summer of 2013, his presence is still felt. Ask any political thriller novelist working today, and I guarantee you that they’ll point to Flynn as one of the greatest literary titans the genre has ever known—and many of them are longtime fans of his work.

Nobody loves Mitch Rapp more than me. In fact, my youngest son is named Mitchell Ryan, because let’s face it, I wanted to create a world where Mitch and Ryan were together and could grow up to be BFFs. (I also have a son named Ryan Junior. This might be a good time to mention what a loving and supportive wife I have. Thanks, babe!)

Again, nobody loves Rapp more than me. When he returns each year, even though I know it’s only for roughly 100,000 words and, give or take, 400 pages, I can’t help but feel like my best friend is back in town for a weekend—and I can’t wait to hang out with him.

When news broke in 2014 that Kyle Mills had been hired to continue Flynn’s series, I’ll admit it, I was totally skeptical. I wasn’t in love with the idea of another writer coloring inside Vince’s world. However, at the same time, I really wanted another go-around with Rapp. So, I dove into The Survivor, Mills’ first contribution to the franchise, eager to see what he could do with Mitch, Scott Coleman, Irene Kennedy, and everyone else. In the end, I was stunned.

Mills, more than any other writer hired to keep an iconic author’s franchise afloat after their passing, cares deeply about getting things right. Every detail. Every fact. Every nuance and mannerism of even the smallest setting or side characters. I was floored with just much his first book felt like, well, a true Mitch Rapp thriller. Because it was. It is.

Now, here we are in 2020. Lethal Agent is Mills’ fifth book set in the Rappverse, and there’s no question—this is his series now.

Kyle, who I’ve been fortunate enough to get to know over the years, puts everything he’s got into every book that he writes, and it shows. He’s been bold. He’s been daring. He’s taken some chances. But he’s always stayed true to the characters Vince Flynn created, and for that, I am so thankful. If you’d have told me back in 2013 that someone else could step in for Flynn—and that not only would there be no drop-off whatsoever, but that they’d actually elevate the series higher—I would have laughed you out of the bookstore. But that’s what’s happened. Kyle Mills has done an amazing job, and he deserves a ton of credit for his work with Rapp and the gang.

Here, in Lethal Agent, not only does Mitch Rapp go a bit rogue—making it an obvious choice for my Rogue pick—but he does so to go after a rogue terrorist who is planning a devastating biological attack on American soil. Honestly, what more do you need to know than that? Just sit back and relax as Rapp does his thing, because you already know that when he shows up, bad guys tend to stop breathing in bunches. Especially in this one.

Happy reading!

Lethal Agent: The Classic Flynn Structure Meets Rapp’s New Threat
by Kyle Mills

Even after twenty odd years in this business I still get anxious every time I sit down to begin a book outline. The blank page glares up at me while I flip through a folder stuffed with undeveloped concepts scribbled on scraps of paper. Having lots of ideas is definitely a good thing but it also presents an obstacle that weighs on my mind until I figure it out: How can a handful of unrelated fragments be transformed into a coherent and appealing story?

Lethal Agent followed this familiar pattern but with a twist. I’d already decided I was going to return to a very recognizable Vince Flynn framework after using a freer hand with Red War. The book would include a threat from Islamic terrorists, sleazy politicians, and Mitch Rapp largely on his own doing whatever’s necessary to get the job done. But how would that old-school structure work when Mitch is confronted with a biological weapon—a challenge he’s never faced? The more I dug into viruses and pandemics, I realized that nature offered a terrifying way to test both Mitch’s skillset and Vince’s style of storytelling. Suddenly, Rapp’s next do-or-die mission began unfolding in my mind.

I’ve been thinking about biological attacks since the 2003 SARS outbreak. My wife and I were getting ready to embark on an around-the-world trip when we were bombarded by news stories about this terrifying and highly contagious disease. Our families wanted us to cancel the trip but we refused because, frankly, we were cheap and had already paid for it. I momentarily regretted our decision when we arrived at the Singapore airport and were forced to walk through sensors that tested passengers for fever. Fortunately, neither of us ended up in quarantine, but the experience stuck with me. Over time, I became increasingly intrigued by isolated illnesses that escalate into pandemics.

The truth is that nothing in history—advancing technology, war, politics—has matched the sheer impact of disease. Plague wiped out nearly a third of 14th century Europeans, with casualties reaching as high as eighty percent in parts of southern France and Spain. It’s hard to fully grasp how much this changed the known world. To this day, we can see the effects of plague on politics, religion, art, and literature. Humanity’s relationship with death and its outlook on life were fundamentally transformed.

The Spanish flu, which broke out around the end of World War I, killed about thirty million people worldwide. Extrapolated to the present day population, that disease would have taken the lives of 150 million.
Again, it’s hard for a citizen of the 21st century to imagine the scale of this pandemic. Surgical masks were worn in public. Stores were prohibited from having sales to prevent people from gathering in confined spaces. Some cities demanded that passengers’ health be certified before they boarded trains.

If a similar pandemic broke out in modern society the toll would be unimaginable. We live in an interconnected, heavily populated world. A disease that starts in Asia could be in the US, Europe, and Africa in a matter of hours. Medical services would be overwhelmed. Commerce would stall as authorities tried to slow the spread of the disease. The machines that make our society possible—from food production and delivery to power generation and sanitation—would break down as critical workers were incapacitated or died off. Bodies would go unburied and people would flee the cities. World economies would collapse.

But how likely is another pandemic similar to the ones of the past? Unfortunately, it’s almost inevitable. Humans continue to move into unfamiliar habitat, bringing us into contact with animals and germs we haven’t encountered before. The massive demand for meat puts us in close proximity to livestock including pigs and birds suffering from infections that can jump species.

Pondering this inevitability is where I finally found my story. People tend to think of bioweapons as being engineered in some complex way, but it doesn’t have to be so. Lethal Agent is based on the terrifyingly plausible scenario that a SARS-like virus breaks out in Yemen. With no medical infrastructure to speak of and a war that prevents organized intervention like we saw in 2003, the disease is left to incubate in remote villages.

Much has been written about crop dusters and other elaborate delivery strategies. But in reality none are necessary. Just smuggle a handful of sick people into a developed country and you have bioweapons that are intelligent, adaptable, and mobile. They could loiter in airports, go to nightclubs, or get jobs in food service. The structure of modern society would do the rest. Once again, we’re lucky Mitch Rapp is on the job.

Kyle Mills is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of nineteen books, including the latest in Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series, Lethal Agent.

Growing up in Oregon, Washington, DC, and London as a the son of an FBI agent, Kyle absorbed an enormous amount about the intelligence community, giving his novels their unique authenticity. He and his wife live in Wyoming where they spend their off hours mountain biking and backcountry skiing.

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  1. Rogue Women Writers

    I too know and like Kyle Mills and his wife, Kim, very much. We became acquainted when I had a home in Jackson Hole – before he started writing the Mitch Rapp series…and yes, he is one terrific author! I heartily recommend all of Kyle's books – so glad to have this article here on our Rogue site…..Karna Small Bodman

  2. Chris Goff

    It was somehow reassuring to know that a writer as great as Kyle Mills still gets the jitters when he sits down to write a new book. Mitch Rapp is one of my favorite characters, and I agree with The Real Book Spy — you have succeeded in making this series your own.

  3. Ryan

    Kyle Mills is a great guy, and such a terrific writer. I cannot imagine anyone else continuing this series for Vince Flynn. Readers are going to love LETHAL AGENT when it comes out on Tuesday!

  4. Lisa Black

    I have somehow totally missed this series and have been meaning to remedy that for a while!! Can’t wait to get started.

  5. Jamie Freveletti

    Good to see Kyle here and the next Mitch Rapp book. And the idea of pandemic flu is frightening, to say the least. Can't wait to read LETHAL AGENT!