In Vince Flynn's latest Mitch Rapp thriller, an operative in Afghanistan is kidnapped. The knowledge he has of the CIA and its secrets could prove fatal if dropped into the wrong hands. Rapp is deployed to try and recover the operative, but some unforeseen obstacles start pushing him off course: his nemesis, Louie Gould, has been hired to kill Rapp; a botched attempt by the Afghani police to kill him results in a minor memory loss; and the FBI want to arrest him for embezzling. Add to that the discovery that his mentor, Stan Hurley, is in the late stages of cancer, and Rapp has his hands full and his life on the line.
The audio of The Last Man is narrated by George Guidall. I believe I could listen to this man read the phone book and be completely engrossed. He, of course, narrates one of my favorite series, Craig Johnson's Walt Longmire series, and at first I heard Walt in this reading. It took less than two minutes to leave Absaroka County behind and take on the world of Mitch Rapp and the CIA.
One of the qualities I admire most about Guidall's narration is that he doesn't over dramatize. That's too common a characteristic in thriller novels and can leave them sounding unrealistic and absurd. The action scenes of The Last Man are read in such a way as to increase listeners' heart rates and maybe even catch their breath, but not so that they start rolling their eyes or envisioning a bad Arnold Schwarzenegger film.
Guidall tapped into the character of Rapp and related his calm, serious demeanor. Rapp is an assassin; in order to be good at his profession, he has dulled some of the feelings and emotions that the ordinary person experiences. And yet, he is still able to have some semblance of a relationship with other people. Walking that wire is tricky and a misstep can leave the character unbelievable. Flynn does a good balancing act with Rapp, and Guidall delivers it well.
Guidall did an equally fine job bringing out Irene Kennedy's personality. Kennedy is, of course, the CIA director. She's strong and serious and holds her own in a world dominated by men. But she also cares about her people and isn't without emotion. She's not a field operative whose been desensitized in order to remain sane. Her internal conflicts are crystal clear in Guidall's voice.
While there were some subtle political issues that arose that I shared different view points on, they were handled well and in a manner appropriate to the novel's context. They didn't come off as a sermon and fit the characters expressing them.
**WARNING: Minor Spoiler--for animal advocates**
If you're a person who under no circumstances tolerates the killing of an animal in a plot, this is not a book for you. There is an animal death in the book. I felt it was handled exceptionally well and appropriate to the context. Personally, I'm not one to tolerate the unnecessary inclusion of animal deaths and have criticized some books for it in the past, but in this particular one, I think Flynn wrote the scene perfectly. But if you are adamantly opposed to it at any time, be forewarned that it is included.
This was my first experience with a Vince Flynn novel. I had no problems following his long-standing series character and I enjoyed the energy and action of the novel. George Guidall's reading was exquisite and I looked forward to my walks and drives in order to hear more of the book.
The Last Man is available on unabridged audio (ISBN: 9781442355453) from Simon & Schuster Audio. It is just shy of 12 hours. The Last Man is available in print hardcover (ISBN: 9781416595212) from Atria/Emily Bestler Books.