(That was better than last time, right?)
It’s been about a couple of weeks since my last blog post, and a lot has happened since then, both in the thriller world and for me personally. So, let’s get into it . . .
Okay, so first up, since my last post, Code Red—written by Kyle Mills, who back in 2013, took over for the late Vince Flynn and has since been writing Mitch Rapp books—was released. Now, the Kyle Mills era has come to an end. I reported months ago that Don Bentley (best known for his Matt Drake books and for writing the Jack Ryan Junior books set in Tom Clancy’s universe) was set to replace Mills, who exits the series after nine books, all major New York Times bestsellers, to pursue other writing projects.
Look, it’s a blow. There’s no way around that. Kyle Mills has done an amazing job. And what a tough job he had! Stepping into the shoes of one of America’s favorite authors, taking over a series where the character—Mitch Rapp—isn’t just a household name but one of the most badass characters ever created. That’s a lot of pressure, and Kyle walked in and won over the fans, both the diehard and casual readers, by cranking out high-stakes, action-packed adventures where his Mitch Rapp felt like the Mitch Rapp we’ve all known and loved. He’s been a gentleman, perfectly representing the series Flynn created, and always made his tenure writing Rapp about the characters and stories he was telling within that universe. It was never “The Kyle Mills” show, though nobody would have been mad had that been his approach. Instead, he referred to himself as a “ghostwriter,” even though he was far from that, always putting Mitch Rapp and Vince Flynn first. Nor did he treat the job like a stepping-stone to another opportunity or gig. He didn’t sign onto the Mitch Rapp series to boost his own sales or series or create other opportunities for himself—even though, again, nobody would have faulted him for doing so.
No, in fact, Kyle actually quit writing his own books, and in his nearly ten years of carrying the Mitch Rapp torch, he never released a book of his own to capitalize on the success of the Rapp books. I’m going to be honest. That is extremely rare. Literally, nobody else is doing that. Myself included FYI, as it will soon be announced that I will be taking over another thriller series (more on that later). But again, it would not have been wrong for Kyle to keep writing his own books on the side, piggybacking the release dates so that Vince Fynn’s readers, and everyone he won over writing the Mitch Rapp books, would have bought his book too. Heck, that would have probably been a good business move, frankly. But instead, Kyle gave all of himself to the Mitch Rapp series, putting his own books on hold and his own career second to deliver one amazing Mitch Rapp novel per year. And he absolutely crushed it. So, yes, his presence will be missed. Greatly. And on behalf of all Mitch Rapp fans, I salute Kyle for a job well done and offer my sincere thanks.
A few weeks ago, Kyle came on my Twitch channel for what will go down as our last interview and conversation together about his job as the writer behind Mitch Rapp. It was a fun talk, and it’s almost hard to believe how fast these last ten years have passed by. I kept thinking about that as Kyle and I reminisced about things during our talk. How has it already been a decade? Think of how many bad guys Mitch Rapp has killed in those nine books! It’s, like, a lot.
Now, as we turn the page and look to the future, I can’t help but wonder what the next ten years will look like for Rapp, and yeah, I am really excited to see what Don Bentley does. Don is a friend, and he’s a super good guy. But I also know how talented he is as a writer, and that, combined with his background (Google him), has me pretty pumped up to see what he’ll do with Rapp, Kennedy, Coleman, and everyone else. My guess, and this is based purely on my gut, is that Bentley brings the action in a big way with his first Rapp book. I can’t wait to read it! Or maybe he doesn’t go full bang, bang (I bet he does, though). Who knows? Either way, Rapp is in good hands moving forward, and that’s all that matters.
What else happened these last couple of weeks?
Hmm . . .
I mentioned above that I’ll be part of a big announcement soon. I’m ready to finally be able to talk about that and excited to tell you more. Soon. Promise.
Oh! Right, Redd Christmas.
Following the release of Lethal Range, which came out in August, I decided I wanted to go back in time to tell an origin story for Matthew Redd, the hero of my own series, and show how he becomes the battle-tested operator readers meet in Fields of Fire. So, Redd Christmas—which is set back during Redd’s early days as a Marine, before he becomes a Raider—does exactly that. Now, I should note that Redd Christmas is actually a novella, not a full-length book, but I promise you’ll get your money’s worth. It’s actually about 30k words, which is just under a third of a full-length Redd novel, which I usually turn in around 100k words. There’s a ton of action, but I’ll be honest with you, I wrote it (yes, even the action) in a very different way. This story was designed to be a raw, real, and honest look at what our servicemen and women go through after joining the military and being shipped off to fight in war. I didn’t want to glamorize things, instead opting to stay true to the concept of peeking behind the curtain to show what these eighteen and nineteen-year-old men go through. Of course, I also wanted to entertain the reader, and I am really proud of the overall story and how it turned out, but because it’s so different than the full-length books, I thought Redd Christmas was best off as a novella. That said, this isn’t some throwaway novella that’s loosely set within the Redd universe. No, Redd Christmas is packed with Easter eggs for people who’ve read my first two books, and it offers a few clues about my next book—Out For Blood—which we’ll announce very soon. I’m nearly done writing the fourth book, and let’s just say . . . the events of Redd Christmas are fully canonized in the main series.
For me personally, these last few weeks have continued to be challenging for a number of reasons. My wife has had some health issues that sure put a damper on our end-of-summer plans. She’s actually having another surgery soon, so if you’re the praying type, please keep her in your thoughts and prayers. As many of you know, we have six kids together, so with her down for the count, it’s left little time for Book Spying. Between being a dad, husband, and keeping up my own word count on Redd #4, I’ve not been able to type reviews for what I’ve been reading recently. But I have been reading. A lot.
For work, I’ve read The Rising Order by new author Claire Isenthal, which is fantastic! She’s going to be a star, mark my words. I’ve also read Brad Taylor’s short story, The Honeymoon Heist, and loved every minute of hanging out with Pike and Jennifer. I also knocked out Judgement Prey by John Sandford, Blood Lines by Nelson DeMille, The Lost Boys of Barlowe Theatre by Jaime Jo Wright (an author I really fell in love with reading earlier this year), and Bret Battles first Stuart Woods book, Obsession. Expect reviews for all of those titles very soon. I also nearly finished The Defector by Chris Hadfield, and that’s really good too.
For fun, I’ve been reading a lot of nonfiction lately. I absolutely love Walter Isaacson’s work, and I recently finished the biographies he wrote about Steve Jobs and Leonardo da Vinci. Having been so fascinated with those works, I also pre-ordered Elon Musk and am about two-thirds of the way done with it. Love him or hate him, Elon has been a polarizing figure, and I’m so glad Isaacson wrote this book. I recommend all of those titles. Additionally, I’ve also been reading The Wager: A Tale of Shipwreck, Mutiny and Murder by David Grann. Now that book, that one is riveting. I highly recommend checking it out. Then, finally, I’m knee-deep in The King: The Life of Charles III by Christopher Anderson and Prince Charles: The Passions and Paradoxes of an Improbable Life by Sally Bedell Smith. Those are actually “research” books for something I’m working on, and in a way, so are the last two books I’ve been making my way through—Agatha Christie’s Poirot: The Greatest Detective in the Word by Mark Aldridge and Agatha Christie: An Autobiography.
I am utterly obsessed with Christie, The Queen of Crime, and Mr. Poirot. This year, I’ve been re-reading (although, admittingly, some are a first-time read for me) all of the Poirot books and short stories. Last year, I took a trip down the Sherlock Holmes memory lane, revisiting all of those books. In my opinion, it is so hard to compare characters, and both deserve their place in history. But What Conan Doyle did isn’t, at least by today’s standards, whodunits. I do think he’s the father of the genre in many ways, and Sherlock Holmes might be the most famous fictional name ever created, but I personally think those titles are more revolutionary for introducing forensic evidence and different ways of deducting crime . . . whereas Chrsitie, with Hercule Poirot, did write true whodunits unline anything seen before her. Christie was so good at giving you hints and clues but never revealing the murderer and motive until she was ready to have Poirot explain it all at the end. Needless to say, if you’ve not read the classics by those titans of the genre, you really should.
Before I wrap this up, here’s a teaser: We’re doing a cover reveal and book announcement for a new, non-Gray Man title from #1 New York Times bestselling author Mark Greaney this week right here on The Real Book Spy. Trust me, you don’t want to miss that one. I can’t tell you which day we’re running it (it’s Tuesday), so swing back to keep checking!
Until next time, all. And as always, happy reading!