The Third Option

Vince Flynn, Author Pocket Books $24.95 (368p) ISBN 978-0-671-04731-3
A CIA counterterrorist gets caught in the middle of a deadly Beltway power play in Flynn's (Balance of Power) latest political thriller. Long on one-dimensional characters, action scenes and espionage details, it falls short on comprehensible plotting. Battle-scarred protagonist Mitch Rapp returns to take on a sensitive new assignment in Europe, only to have things go awry when his two CIA colleagues turn on him following the assassination of a wealthy German count who has been selling arms to Saddam Hussein. Rapp survives their double-dealing, but he is forced to go underground to decipher the labyrinthine chain of political connections and to learn who was trying to have him killed. Back in Washington, a similar game of spy-versus-spy is being conducted by the elderly, dying director of the CIA and his chosen successor. Rapp eventually surfaces to help his bosses, but things get personal for the ace counterterrorist when Rapp's bride-to-be is kidnapped as part of the ongoing political maneuvers. Flynn sweats the small stuff to bring his conspiracy to life, but he also introduces enough secondary characters to populate two novels, and he frequently stalls the narrative momentum by providing an overwhelming level of detail regarding various high-tech gadgets and espionage operations. The biggest disappointment, though, comes at the end, when the book is exposed as a shameless setup for a sequel. Flynn is a popular writer, but his third thriller won't do much to enhance his critical reputation or his sales. 9-city author tour. (Nov.)
Reviewed on: 10/30/2000
Release date: 11/01/2000
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