Kill Shot, p.1Part #2 of Mitch Rapp series by Vince Flynn
Vince Flynn is an international No. 1 bestseller, published in 20 countries. He lives in Minneapolis with his wife and three children. Visit his website at www.vinceflynn.com
Also by Vince Flynn
Pursuit of Honour
Protect and Defend
Act of Treason
Consent to Kill
Separation of Power
The Third Option
Transfer of Power
First published in the USA by Emily Bestler Books/Atria Books, 2012
A division of Simon and Schuster, Inc.
First published in Great Britain by Simon & Schuster UK Ltd, 2012
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Copyright © Vince Flynn, 2012
This book is copyright under the Berne Convention.
No reproduction without permission.
® and © 1997 Simon & Schuster, Inc. All rights reserved.
The right of Vince Flynn to be identified as author of this work has been asserted in accordance with sections 77 and 78 of the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988.
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Hardback ISBN 978-0-85720-866-8
Trade Paperback ISBN 978-0-85720-867-5
Ebook ISBN 978-0-85720-870-5
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either a product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, events or locales, is entirely coincidental.
Printed and bound by CPI Group (UK) Ltd, Croydon, CR0 4YY
Dr. Eugene Kwon and Dr. Bill Utz
Dr. Mike Nanne
FOR some time now, I’ve been fond of saying I want to make it through life with one agent, one editor, one publisher, and one wife. I like working with people I admire and trust, and I like stability. When you find out you have cancer, this philosophy takes on a much deeper meaning. Instead of facing the scariest moment of your life alone you find yourself surrounded by people you care about and who genuinely care for you. To my agent, Sloan Harris, who is no stranger to this fight, you have brought the same laser-like focus to my health issues that you have used to successfully manage the Rapp franchise. Your opinions and insights continue to give me great comfort. To Kristyn Keene at ICM, your levity is always welcome, and to Chris Silbermann, thank you for continuing to navigate the Hollywood minefield.
To my editor and publisher, Emily Bestler, thank you for your usual grace and calm during a trying year; you make it all much easier than it should be. To Kate Cetrulo and Caroline Porter at Emily Bestler Books for making the trains run on time. To Jeanne Lee for another great cover. To Al Madocs, sorry for putting you through the wringer yet again. To David Brown for your professionalism, unbelievable work ethic, and great sense of humor. To Ariele Fredman for keeping Mr. Brown out of trouble and your much-needed wit. To Judith Curr and Louise Burke for your divergent and successful styles of publishing. To Anthony Ziccardi, Michael Selleck, and the great sales force at Simon & Schuster, and to Carolyn Reidy one of the smartest people in publishing. You all make me feel like I am part of the S&S family and for that I am extremely grateful.
On the medical front I have a long list of people to thank. To Dr. Jason Reed for your concern and diligence. To Dr. Bill Utz who made the diagnosis and has continued to quarterback my care for the last year. Your professionalism, faith, and intensity help me sleep better each and every night. And to the rest of the staff at Urology Associates, especially Jim and Adriane. To Dr. Badrinath Konety at the University of Minnesota Center for Prostate Cancer, for being the first person to give me hope. I’m not sure I will ever be able to fully express my gratitude for the gift you gave my wife and me when we needed it most. To Dr. Eugene Kwon at the Mayo Clinic: you are a rock star. In addition to being possibly the smartest person I have ever met, you might also be one of the funniest. Knowing you are down in Rochester on the front lines looking for a way to kill this cancer allows me to do things like write this book. To Dr. Douglas Olson at the Fairview Southdale Radiation Therapy Center and Dr. Richard Diaz and your phenomenal staff, for making eight weeks of radiation a breeze.
I have received countless prayers and well wishes from fans and friends, and they have meant a great deal to my family and me. This fight can be pretty lonely at times, and knowing that you are all out there makes it a little less scary. I am blessed to have grown up in a big family and in a town where people really care about each other. To Tom Tracy, who I think may have taken the news harder than me, I am lucky to still call you my best friend after thirty-one years. Thank you for starting Mitch Rapp & the Killer Moustaches for Movember and raising a nice chunk of change for prostate cancer research. To Mike Dougherty, who was told he was going to die from prostate cancer more than a decade and half ago. Thank you for showing me what can happen when a stubborn Irishman refuses to quit. To Gary Petrucci, who is a one-man research machine. Thank you for keeping me abreast of all the latest and greatest in the fight to find a cure for prostate cancer. To Eric and Kathy Schneeman for all the great times at the Pub. You have been a godsend to my family this past year. To Jodi Bakkegard and Dennis Gudim for keeping me as healthy as possible. And to Dr. Mike Nanne for showing me how to deal with cancer with faith and courage.
To Ed Kocourek, my unofficial spiritual mentor. Thank you for pushing me when I needed it. The Adoration Chapel at St. Joseph’s has become a place of great beauty and serenity in my life. To Father John Malone, Father Peter Laird, and Archbishop Emeritus Harry Flynn for your prayers and guidance. I am a God-fearing soul and always have been. I choose to believe, and to all of you who have sent your prayers and well wishes, thank you.
Last, but definitely not least, to my wife Lysa. I don’t know how people go through this alone. I am blessed in many ways but none more so than having you as my wife. Thank you for being there every step of the way with your grace, perspective, and love. You are the best.
THE man flew through the air, propelled by one of the other recruits. CIA handler Irene Kennedy watched from inside the house with casual interest as he failed to tuck and roll. He hit the ground flat and hard—the kind of impact that more than likely knocked the wind out of him, maybe even bruised a rib. Kennedy pursed her lips and calculated his odds of making it through the remaining eight weeks of the training program. She’d seen so many men roll through here that she could handicap them like a Vegas bookie. This one she gave a less than 10 percent chance.
Kennedy’s thoughts, however, were not really with this batch of recruits. She was more concerned with a certain man who had waltzed through the rigorous training program a little more than a year ago. Mitch Rapp had been her rookie, and in the year since they had unleashed him on the purveyors of terrorism, he had left a steady trail of bodies from Geneva to Istanbul to Beirut and beyond. His record to date was perfect, and that in its own way added to Kennedy’s tension. No one was perfect. Sooner or later, no matter how much talent they had, the mighty got tripped up. To complicate the odds, Kennedy had pushed to allow him to operate on his own. No backup. Just an advance team to scout things out and then he moved in all by his lonesome to do the dirty work up close and personal. No team members to bail his ass out if things went south. Rapp had argued that a small footprint would mean less chance of being caught.
Instinctively, Kennedy liked the simplicity. She’d seen more than her fair share of operations that had become so cumbersome in personnel and scope that they never got off the ground. Rapp had successfully argued that if he failed he was just one man with a foreign passport who could never be traced back to Langley. Hurley the hard-assed spook and trainer, had pointed out that his little game worked only if he was dead. If they took him alive, he’d talk, just like everyone did, and then their exposure would be horrible. Theirs was not a risk-free business, however, and in the end Thomas Stansfield was willing to roll the dice on Rapp. The young operative had proven himself very resourceful and Stansfield needed to cross more names off his list of most wanted terrorists.
This mission was different, though. The stakes were considerably higher. It was one thing when Rapp was lurking about some Third World country practicing his craft, but at this very moment, he was about to do something very illegal, and unsanctioned in a country where he could not afford to make even the slightest mistake.
So intense was Kennedy’s concentration that she hadn’t heard the question from the man sitting behind the desk. She brushed a strand of her shoulder-length auburn hair behind her ear and said, “Excuse me?”
Dr. Lewis had been studying her for the last few minutes. Kennedy was a complex, confident, and extremely guarded professional. It had become an occupational obsession for Lewis to find out what made her tick. “You’re worried about him.”
Irene Kennedy’s face remained neutral despite the fact that she was irritated by her colleague’s ability to read her thoughts. “Who?”
“You know who,” Dr. Lewis said, his soft blue eyes coaxing her along.
Kennedy shrugged as if it was a small thing. “I worry about every operation I’m in charge of.”
“It seems you worry more about the ones he’s involved in.”
Kennedy considered the unique individual whom she had found in Upstate New York. As much as she’d like to deny it, Lewis’s assessment of her concern over Rapp was accurate. Kennedy couldn’t decide if it was the man, or the increasingly dangerous nature of the operations they’d been giving him, but in either case, she did not want to discuss the matter with Lewis.
“I’ve found,” Lewis said in a carefree tone, “that I worry about him less than most. Always have, I think.”
Kennedy flipped the comment around in her head. She could easily take it two ways—maybe more. “It’s a lot easier when you’re sitting on that side of the desk.” Kennedy flashed him a rare smile. “I’m his handler. I put him in these situations, and I’m his only lifeline should something go wrong. I would think that clinically”—she raised an eyebrow, mimicking one of Lewis’s overused facial expressions—“even you would understand that.”
The shrink stroked his bottom lip with his forefinger and said, “Worrying about someone, or something, can be normal . . . and even healthy, but if taken too far . . .” Lewis shook his head and made a sour face. “Definitely not good.”
Here we go, Kennedy thought to herself. This was not an accidental conversation. Lewis had been thinking about this for some time, plotting his line of questioning. Kennedy knew from experience that to try to run from the tête-à-tête would only make it worse. Lewis was patient and tenacious, and his reports were given serious weight by the deputy director of operations. The doctor would zero in on a problem and pepper you with questions until he was satisfied. Kennedy decided to lob the ball back onto his side of the net. “So you think I worry too much.”
“I didn’t say that,” the doctor said with an easy tone and a soft shake of his head.
“But you implied it,” Kennedy said.
“It was merely a question.”
“A question that you asked because you think you’ve noticed something and you’re worried about me. And since you initiated it, I would appreciate it if you would explain yourself rather than treat this like one of your therapy sessions.”
Lewis sighed. He’d seen Kennedy get this way, but never with him. Usually it was with Stan Hurley, who was exceedingly adept at getting under people’s skin. She was always calm and analytical in her dealings with Lewis, so the fact that she was so quick to anger now was proof that his concerns were valid. “I think when it comes to a certain operative . . . you worry too much.”
“Rapp?” Kennedy asked.
“Please don’t give me some psychobabble that you think I’m in love with him.” Kennedy shook her head as if anything so humdrum was beneath her. “You know that’s not how I work.”
Lewis dismissed the idea with the back of his hand. “I agree. That is not my concern.”
“Then what is?”
“That you do not give the man his credit.”
“Credit? Credit for what?”
“Let’s start with the fact that he came down here a little more than a year ago, without any military experience, and bested every man we put in front of him, including your Uncle Stan. His ability to learn, and do so at an incredibly rapid pace, is unlike anything I have ever seen.” Lewis’s voice grew in intensity. “And he does it in every field of discipline.”
“Not every field of discipline. His marks in geopolitics and diplomatic affairs are dismal.”
“That’s because he sees those fields as an utter waste of his time, and I don’t necessarily disagree with him.”
“I thought we wanted well-rounded people to come out of this place.”
Lewis shrugged his shoulders. “Mental stability matters more to me than well-rounded. After all, we’re not asking him to negotiate a treaty.”
“No, but we need him to be aware of the big picture.”
“Big picture.” Lewis frowned. “I think Mitch would argue that he’s the only one around here who keeps his focus on the big picture.”
Kennedy was a woman in the ultimate man’s world, and she deeply disliked it when her colleagues treated her as if everything needed to be explained to her. “Really,” she said with chaste insincerity.
“Your man has a certain aptitude. A certain ability that is heightened by the fact that he doesn’t allow extraneous facts to get in the way.”
Kennedy sighed. Normally she would never let her frustration show, but she was tired. “I know you think I can read minds, but today that skill seems to have left me. Could you please get to the point?”
“You do look more tired than normal.”
“Why, thank you. And you look like you’ve put on a few pounds.”
Lewis smiled. “No need to hurt my feelings, just because you’re worried about him.”
“It is my job to observe.” He swiveled his chair and looked at the eight men and the two instructors who were putting them through the basics of hand-to-hand combat. “Observe all of you. Make sure no one has a mental breakdown and runs off the reservation.”
“And who watches you?”
Lewis smiled. “I’m not under the same stress,” the doctor said as he spun back to face Kennedy. “As you said, he is your responsibility.”
Kennedy mulled that one over for a second. She couldn’t disagree, so she kept her mouth shut. Plus the good doctor excelled at compartmentalizing the rigors of their clandestine operation.
“I’m looking out for you,” Lewis said in his understanding therapist tone. “This double life that you’ve been living is not healthy. The mental strain is something that you think you can manage, and I thought you could as well, but recently, I’ve begun to have some doubts.”
Kennedy felt a twist in her gut. “And have you shared these doubts with anyone?” Specifically she was thinking of Thomas Stansfield.
“Not yet, but at some point I am bound to pass along my concerns.”
Kennedy felt a sense of relief, even if it was just a brief reprieve. She knew the only way to avoid a bad personnel report was to allay Lewis’s concerns. And the only way to do that was to talk about them. “This aptitude that you say he has, would you care to share it with me?”
Lewis hesitated as if he was trying to find the most delicate way to say something that was brutally indelicate. With a roll of his head he said, “I have tried to get inside Rapp’s mind, and there are days where I swear he’s so refreshingly honest that I think I know what makes him tick, and then . . .” Lewis’s voice trailed off.
“And then, what?”
“There are other days where I can’t get past those damn dark eyes of his and that lopsided grin that he uses to defuse anyone who goes poking around in his business.”
“That’s the aptitude that puts you at ease? His lopsided grin?”
“No,” Lewis scoffed. “It’s far more serious than his ability to be open one moment and then impenetrable the next, although that may have a hand in how he deals with everything. I’m talking about the very core of all of this. Why are we here? Why have we secretly funneled over fifty million dollars into this operation? I’m talking about the fact that he is a one-man wrecking ball. That he has methodically, in a little over a year, accomplished more than we have accomplished in the last decade. And let’s be brutally honest with each other.” Lewis held up a finger. “The ‘what’ that we are talking about is the stone-cold fact that he is exceedingly good at hunting down and killing men.”
Kill Shot by Vince Flynn / Thrillers & Crime have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes