Also by Vince Flynn
Pursuit of Honor
Protect and Defend
Act of Treason
Consent to Kill
Separation of Power
The Third Option
Transfer of Power
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This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons living or dead is entirely coincidental.
Copyright © 2010 by Vince Flynn
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To the victims of the
Pan Am Lockerbie terrorist attack
and their families
WRITING is by necessity a solitary process. Fortunately, my wife, a beautiful, stoic Scandinavian from Northern Minnesota, understands this. Lysa, you are an amazing partner. Every year you bear the brunt of these deadlines. Even when I am physically around, I am mentally elsewhere … trying to figure out the twists and turns of the story. I can never say thank you enough.
Publishing, on the other hand, has very little to do with solitude. It is a dynamic, exciting industry where things can go wrong, or right, at countless junctures. I am extremely lucky to be surrounded by some of the best people in the business. From Sloan Harris and Kristyn Keene at ICM, to Emily Bestler, Sarah Branham, Kate Cetrulo, Jeanne Lee, Al Madocs, David Brown, and Judith Curr at Atria, to Louise Burke and Anthony Ziccardi at Pocket Books, to Michael Selleck and Carolyn Reidy at Simon & Schuster, and the entire sales force … you are all top-notch. For twelve straight publications, most of it during the most tumultuous times the industry has ever seen, you have managed to make each launch better than the previous.
To Lorenzo DiBonaventura and Nick Wechsler for continuing to push the boulder up the hill—I do not know how you do it. To my friend Rob Richer, who helped give me the flavor of Beirut in the early nineties, to Ed Schoppman for facilitating the hardware, to Dr. Jodi Bakkegard for straightening me out, and to all those who choose to remain in the shadows, thank you. To those whom I may have forgotten—my sincere apologies.
And last, to you, the reader. I have wanted to tell this story for fifteen years. How did Mitch Rapp become Mitch Rapp? Crafting this novel has been one of the greatest thrills of my writing career. Thank you for your support and enjoy the read.
MITCH Rapp stared at his reflection in the dusty, cracked mirror and questioned his sanity. There was no shaking, or sweaty palms. He wasn’t nervous. It was just a cold, calculated assessment of his abilities and his odds for success. He went over the plan once more from start to finish, and again concluded it was likely that he would be severely beaten, tortured, and possibly killed, but even in the face of such prospects, he couldn’t bring himself to walk away, which brought him right smack dab back to that part about his mental health. What kind of man willingly chose to do such a thing? Rapp thought about it for a long moment and then decided someone else would have to answer that question.
While everyone else seemed content to sit on their hands, it was not in Rapp’s nature to do so. Two of his colleagues had been grabbed from the streets of Beirut by a nasty little outfit called Islamic Jihad. They were a tentacle of Hezbollah that specialized in kidnapping, torture, and suicide bombings. The jihadis had, without question, already begun the interrogation of their new prisoners. They would expose the men to unthinkable pain, and they would begin to peel back each layer of the onion until they got what they wanted.
That was the savage truth, and if his colleagues could delude themselves into thinking otherwise, it just meant they had consciously or unconsciously gravitated toward convenient conclusions. After a day of watching the very people who said they would handle the situation do nothing, Rapp decided to look for a solution on his own. The bureaucrats and foreign service types back in Washington might be content with letting things take their natural course, but Rapp was not. He’d been through too much to allow his cover to be blown, and beyond that there was that nagging little thing about honor and the warrior’s code. He’d been through the wringer with these guys. One he respected, admired, and liked. The other he respected, admired, and hated. The pull for him to do something, anything to save them was strong. The gang back in Washington might be able to simply write off losing the faceless operatives as a cost of war, but to the guys who were in trenches it was a little more personal. Warriors don’t like leaving their own to die at the hands of the enemy, because secretly, they all know they might be in the same position one day, and they sure as hell hope their country will do everything in their power to get them back.
Rapp eyed his fractured reflection; his thick, uncombed head of black hair and beard, his bronzed olive skin and his eyes, so dark that they were almost black. He could walk among the enemy without attracting so much as a suspicious glance, but that would all change if he didn’t do something. He thought of his training and everything he’d sacrificed. The entire operation would be exposed, and that meant his career in the field would be over. He’d be stuffed behind some desk back in Washington where he’d rot for the next twenty-five years. He’d wake up each morning and go to bed each night with the nagging thought that he should have done something—anything. And ultimately he would emasculate himself by questioning the size of his balls for as long as he lived. Rapp shuddered at the thought. He might be a little crazy, but he’d read enough Greek tragedies to understand that a life filled with that kind of recrimination would eventually lead him to the psych ward. No, he thought, I’d rather go down swinging.