Vince Flynn's "Transfer of Power" is a compelling, suspenseful and intriguing novel that is highly relevant to the present domestic and foreign policy issues that affects us worldwide. It is also a highly gripping novel that kept me entranced from start to finish. Yet there were also aspects of this novel that I felt were either underdeveloped or ignored and I think that this ultimately ensures that Flynn is not a writer in the league of someone like Tom Clancy.
Firstly, to the strengths of this novel. Flynn is adept at portraying the mindset of the modern-day terrorist and the strategies and ideologies that terrorist organizations use and promote to inflict their agenda. His character portrayal of terrorist ringleader Aziz is magnificent and, based on what I have read about the mindset of key terrorist leaders in the real world, the thoughts and sentiments that Aziz's character expresses in the book comes chillingly close to the truth of what terrorist ringleaders and their operatives truly believes. Those wanting to gain a greater understanding of what motivates those who engage in terrorist attacks would do well to read this book. The way that Aziz treats his hostages, the way he deals with the other American officials and the way that he rationalizes his decisions are too accurate for comfort.
Knowing what evil and perversity lurks in the minds of the terrorists in this novel also adds to the reader's desire to keep turning the pages in this novel. For me, I was on the edge of the seat hoping for the safety of the hostages and the restoration of justice and democracy as if it were a real-life drama. At some points in the novel, I forgot that I was reading fiction and felt as though I was being drawn into a real-life event. And this is one of the key selling points of this novel -that it has the ability to make fiction seem real
Flynn also seems to have a pretty accurate understanding (admittedly I am basing this on my own miniscule knowledge) of secret service and White House procedures that is quite impressive. I've read that the Secret Service had to persuade Flynn to change some of his details because he was detailing their protocols too extensively. This is another of Flynn's strengths which comes through in the novel.
Having said that, I think he needs to work on his character development. While his portrayal of Aziz was first-class, that in my opinion was the only strong character in the whole book. I was impressed with the heroism displayed by Mitch Rapp but his character was much too clichéd and predictable for me to identify with him in the same way that I could with someone such as Jack Ryan. The other characters in the book were so one-dimensional and clichéd that it was hard for the reader to identify with them. Jack Warch, Anna Reilly, Irene Kennedy, Valerie Jones, President Hayes and all the other characters associated with this book were totally without depth and dimension. When you feel a total lack of sympathy for main characters in the book, it is not a good sign. And this is unfortunate because a good novel of this mode will usually make you empathize with the characters as they go through their experiences.
And the novel would have been better had Flynn considered the wider-term implications of a crisis in this league. Clancy tends to take an internationalist approach in his novels -in other words, when the US is under attack, he considers how the US would deal with its allies and what implications there would be for its allies. This is barely mentioned here. There are no sympathetic Arab characters or countries included in this novel -whereas Clancy will quite often mention countries such as Saudi Arabia and will introduce the Saudi Ambassador or the Saudi Crown Prince into his storyline when relevant. There seems to be an exclusive isolationist aspect to this book which I find quite disturbing.
Nevertheless this is a good read -although not as good as his previous novel "Term Limits"-and I would highly recommend it for those wanting to gain a greater insight into the methods, strategies and ideologies that terrorists promote.