Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy are back, in the book Vince Flynn’s Red War. But this time they have a new adversary and a new setting, pivoting to the dangers Russia imposes. They race to prevent Russia’s gravely ill leader from starting a full-scale war with NATO. With this novel, it is obvious that Mills, who has taken over the writing of the Mitch Rapp/Irene Kennedy stories, has nailed the personalities and reactions of the characters.

This story has the Russian president determined to cling to power after hearing he has brain cancer. He consolidates his control by killing any who threatens him, and then creates a diversion by hoping to start a war with the West. General Andrei Sokolov, the former head of the Russian armed forces and a trusted adviser, is asked to invade three NATO nations, Latvia, Lithuania, and Estonia, with a series of military actions that will allow Krupin to disappear for cancer treatment, without drawing attention. What these two psychopaths do not realize is that CIA Director Irene Kennedy is very suspicious, and to get actionable intelligence she sends Mitch Rapp and Scott Coleman into the Ukraine to be her eyes and ears.  At the same time, she sends in Grisha Azarov, a former Russian operative, now a contractor for the CIA, into Russia to find out Krupin’s whereabouts. As the action escalates, events appear to be going nuclear, literally and figuratively.

Grisha Azarov returns, not as Rapp’s adversary, but as his ally. He is no longer Krupin’s deadly assassin, a job that once put him on a collision course with Mitch Rapp. Both decided on a truce after Grisha worked with Mitch on a past mission. Now, Irene Kennedy connects the dots and realizes Krupin has ordered Azarov to be assassinated.  She sends in Rapp to rescue him and figure out why Krupin sent in a kill team. Bent on revenge after Azarov’s girlfriend was severely injured, he joins forces with Mitch and Irene to eliminate Krupin, who Irene understands has nothing to lose in this deadly game.

Another returning character is Scott Coleman. Mills highlights the close relationship between Rapp and Coleman. As with the early Rapp books they challenge each other and the banter between them is hilarious.

Readers will be hooked from the very beginning. It is one of those rare stories where people will be disappointed that they have finished the book.  Unfortunately, Mitch Rapp and Irene Kennedy fans will have to wait a year for another story, but fortunately they know with Mills at the helm the Vince Flynn characters will be around to protect and defend their fellow citizens.

Elise Cooper:  Rumor has it you are in Spain?

Kyle Mills:  It is on my bucket list to learn a language fluently.  I am trying to learn Spanish.  It has been very fun so far, but has proven quite a bit harder than I thought it would be.  Although the scenery is beautiful. The house I live in was built five hundred years ago with walls six feet thick.

EC:  Why did you pivot to the Russians?

KM: I am fascinated with Russia.  I grew up reading the Cold War thrillers written by Frederick Forsyth, Tom Clancy, and Robert Ludlum.  With the book, ORDER TO KILL, I moved Mitch to deal with the Russians. As they continue to take on the world stage, I liked the idea of this tension between the two countries. Then I had the idea that even dictators eventually get old and weak, so what will happen if someone tries to cling to power, showing signs of erratic behavior.

EC:  A book quote, “Russia’s economy is smaller than New York’s,” with a military fractionally the size of the US.  Please explain.

KM:  They do not care about getting respect.  They only like sneaking up on people and stabbing them in the back. Even though they do not have a lot of resources they still cause trouble around the world. I do not think we are prepared to fend off a Russian attack on the Baltics even though they are NATO countries.  We don’t want to move a lot of military because we think it is a provocation to Russia.  After all, possession is 9 tenths of the law.

EC:  Is Krupin based on Putin?

KM:  Yes, I based him on Putin’s life and resume.  Putin is such a great villain.  It is hard to improve on reality. Both men are obsessed with power and control.  General Sokolav is a bit different than Krupin. The Russian President only is out for himself, while the General is a nationalist who feels Russia has been cheated out of its positon to rule the world.  Both are evil.

EC:  Are Grisha and Mitch similar?

KM:  They both had women they loved injured or killed because of who they are.  But Mitch became who he is because of his anger and sense of duty.  Grisha went into it because he was good at it and did not want to be a farmer.  He never fought because he believed in something, but did it because it paid good money.  I think they are motivated in different ways.

EC:  What is Irene’s role in the plots you write?

KM:  She is the puppet master.  In this book, everything that happens is orchestrated by her.  For her, it is winning, but not letting anyone know we won.  Everything folds into place without people knowing she is involved.  She always has some way to get what she wants, yet, stays in the background. I see her playing a large role, but not like in the book PROTECT AND DEFEND that Vince Flynn wrote.  I never really liked that she was captured by the Iranians and always felt she would never have put herself in that situation.

EC:  Mitch has a relationship with Claudia, but she was part of the team killing his wife Anna?

KM:  In CONSENT TO KILL he forgives her and decides to let things go. It is like that line from the Rocky movie where he says about his relationship, played by Talia Shire, ‘she fills the gaps.’ They understand where each other is coming from although the resentment feelings are there.  I just haven’t explored them that much.  Maybe in the future.

EC:  Please explain this book quote, “The political parties are no longer organizations concerned with administering the country’s affairs.  They are election-winning machines.”

KM:  Most politicians do not even deny doing what they do to help them just get re-elected. They do not do it to help this country.  It is hard to run the country like that, where the fundamental goal is only to get re-elected and not to spend time governing.  I used to live in Africa and noticed that some of the tribes hate each other so badly they would harm themselves in an effort to harm the other tribes.  But we are not a Banana Republic so we should not act that way.

EC:  Can you give a heads up about your next book?

KM:  Azarov will not be back.  He has traveled back to Costa Rica and will retire, but Scott Coleman will be prevalent. Also, I see all these books about Mitch and Irene, who are the indispensable characters to the story. When I thought about what to write I very much wanted to stay out of politics.  I jokingly thought of having Mitch fall out of plane over the drug fields of Columbia without a phone to ask for help. I turned around 180 degrees, because I decided to write about a biological threat and the next presidential election.