If you didn’t know who Kyle Mills was before last year, he’s almost certainly on your radar now. For those living under a rock the past two years, Mills is the author chosen by the Flynn estate to continue the Mitch Rapp franchise created and made famous by the late Vince Flynn. Mills’ first task was to complete The Survivor, a novel Flynn had briefly started before his passing in 2013.
The Survivor hit bookstores on October 6, 2015 and was an instant #1 New York Times bestseller in all three fiction categories–proving once and for all that Mitch Rapp is back, and he’s better than ever.
So while Mitch Rapp is in good hands moving forward, with Mills’ second book in the series set to come out later this year, I want to take a moment to look backwards and highlight some of Kyle’s other books that helped get him to this point in his career.
I’m a huge fan of Mills, both as an author and a person, but there’s no question that his career has been helped by the name recognition of Mitch Rapp. That said, it’s no fluke that Kyle was able to deliver such a great book with The Survivor. In fact, I expected it. He’s a terrific talent and has written a bunch of other really good books in the past.
Long before he was writing Mitch Rapp adventures, Mills had his own franchise. That series followed FBI agent Mark Beamon, starting with Rise of the Phoenix, and lasted five books. He also penned three novels in Robert Ludlum’s Covert-One series, which features entries from other authors such as Gayle Lynds, Patrick Larkin, James Cobb, Jamie Freveletti and, of course, Ludlum himself. Add to that a handful of standalone novels and Mills has had a strong, successful career.
I don’t expect fans to be able to read Kyle’s entire backlist before the next Rapp book comes out this fall, so here’s a few of my personal favorites to keep you busy until then:
Sphere of Influence
Sphere of Influence is the fourth novel in Mills’ Mark Beamon series, and my personal favorite. Beamon, an FBI agent, is nothing like Mitch Rapp. Not even close!
In this book, Beamon is working out of FBI’s Phoenix office, bored out of his mind. A new mission puts him back in the field, where he’s supposed to go undercover for a brief period of time. In short, his partner (and friend) gets killed, and then the crap hits the fan. Mark soon learns that an international drug lord has ties to a terrorist organization planning an attack against America. The list of shady government officials is long, and the web of deceit and corruption stretches far and wide.
The book does start off a bit slow as Mills lays the foundation for the last few hundred pages–which are considerably more action-packed. The best part of the book is Beamon’s personal struggle. In order to do what needs to be done, he takes on the persona of his undercover character, a brutal mercenary, and soon finds himself becoming less and less like Mark Beamon and more like his alter ego, Nicolai. The question isn’t just whether or not the FBI agent can save the day… but can he leave Nicolai behind and once again return to being just Mark Beamon?
Fade might be Mills’ most recognizable book, and for good reason–it rocks! The story is about an ex-Navy SEAL named Salam al-Fayed, or “Fade”for short. Fade, an Arab-American who is fluent in Arabic, was once one of America’s most lethal weapons in their arsenal of super-soldiers. That all changed when Fade was shot in the back, rendering him disabled and left to limp around. Surgery was an option, but the government refused to pay for the risky operation. The same country he bled and fought for has now betrayed him, and Fade isn’t about to forget it.
Years later, the Department of Homeland Security starts recruiting agents for a special undercover operation in the Middle East. High on their list of men to bring in for the job is Fade, who couldn’t say “no” fast enough. That’s when the director made a critical mistake–he tried to blackmail Fade and manipulate him into taking the job he doesn’t want. I won’t spoil anything, but upsetting the former SEAL was a terrible decision. Fade sets out to get revenge, and he leaves one heck of a bloody trail in the process.
Fade is currently a standalone novel, but that could absolutely change in the future as Mills has stated he’d love to write a sequel (or prequel?) at some point. Of all his novels, this is the most Mitch Rapp-like one he’s written.
Fair warning, this book is not something I recommend for all the spy-thriller fans out there. This is a different type of thriller, though it does have some action it it. The tagline for The Immortalists reads: “What would you do to save your child?” I have five kids, and I’d go to hell and back for each one of them. So as a father, and a fan of thrillers, this book sucked me in with just that one line.
Richard Draman is a microbiologist who walked away from his career to focus on one thing–finding a cure for a rare genetic defect that will soon kill his daughter. Susie is only eight, but her condition, which causes her to age at an accelerated rate, has no cure.
Just when the Dramans seem to lose all hope, Richard receives some ground-breaking information that could change everything. It’s possible there’s a cure out there, one that could allow Susie and others with her condition to survive. Good news, right? It is, but there’s a problem. Not everyone wants that info to get out. Richard ends up getting arrested and accused of stealing the data, so he does the only thing a man in his position can do–he takes his family and runs. Soon the Dramans are caught between competitors who want to control the potential cure and miracle discovery. Richard has vowed to cure Susie or die trying, and his journey is both compelling and highly suspenseful. If you like movies like Brendan Fraser’s Extraordinary Measures or Denzel Washington’s John Q, this book is for you.