Books: Vince Flynn Vs. Brad Thor

I decided I couldn’t ignore them anymore–Brad Thor and Vince Flynn. They’ve been big names in the international thriller genre since the new millennium started, but I hadn’t read any of their books. Been too focused on mysteries. They are often mentioned in the same breath. Tributes on books by other thriller writers will say stuff like, “In the same class as Flynn and Thor.” Peas in a pod.

So, at Hydes Books I selected a book by each: Thor’s “Foreign Influence,” and Flynn’s “Act of Treason.” I decided to see just how good these guys are.

Quick conclusion: I like Vince Flynn a whole lot better.

Both authors use a continuing hero, and their series began just a few years apart–Flynn in 1999, Thor in 2002. Flynn’s protagonist is Mitch Rapp. Thor’s guy is Scot Harvath. I have a lot of problems with Harvath.

First, there’s the name. Scot Harvath. What kind of action hero name is that? Here are good action hero names: Jack Reacher, Sean Dillon, Jack Bauer, Jason Bourne, James Bond. Scot Harvath–that’s a good name for a banker, or maybe an Olympic swimmer. Not for a kick-butt ex-SEAL. You know a good action hero name? Try “Brad Thor.” Flynn chose a much better name, Mitch Rapp. It’s not a great name, but in a scrape, I’ll take a Mitch Rapp over a Scot Harvath any day.

Brad Thor

Another criticism: Scot Harvath is a sadist. Several times in the book, he engaged in some serious torture. The real maiming type. One time, his victim was a woman. It was totally unnecessary, and it kind of turned my stomach. Mitch Rapp never resorted to torture (at least in this book).

Another criticism: Thor’s book dealt with Muslim extremists, and he used every Muslim stereotype he could think of. Very shallow.

Another criticism: Thor is a darling of right-wing ideologues (like Glenn Beck), and embraces their beliefs–torture, all Muslims are terrorists, etc. This came through clearly in the book I read. It was FoxNews talking points.

On the other hand, Thor’s “Foreign Influence” had a pretty good overall plot with a few interesting characters, in particular a Spanish dwarf. And the book was structured with two threads–one in Chicago, where a cop was unraveling a terrorist plot; the other in Europe, where Scot Harvath was chasing leads in pursuit of terrorist bombers. But there was no intricacy to the plot. Harvath jaunted around Europe, but mostly following one lead at a time–a clue in one city would lead him to another city, where a new clue would lead him to yet another city, where another clue awaited. It was very predictable.

Vince Flynn

But then I read Vince Flynn’s “Act of Treason,” and it was SO much better. The characters were better drawn, the plot was more intricate and included some interested political intrigue, and overall, there was a lot more texture to the writing. Flynn is just a better writer. Flynn, too, is a darling of the right wing, but that didn’t come through in his writing. In fact, he wrote some things which right-wing ideologues wouldn’t like. And Mitch Rapp was just a much more interesting protagonist.

So I’ll keep reading Vince Flynn. He’s good, very good. I’ll give Thor one more chance, but I have low expectations.

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17 Comments to Books: Vince Flynn Vs. Brad Thor

  1. Scott

    Great summary,
    I read all of Flynn before finding Thor. AFter three Thor books, I’m not sure I’ll continue. From Thor’s story lines, it seemed that Flynn books were his inspiration source. I just finished a timeline of Flynn and Thor publish dates and now believe Flynn s the inspiration and Thor doesn’t have the depth. His books have good spots but not consistently. His read like an NCIS show where the Gibbs team is running around saying and doing wacky gags.

    I’m hoping for a few more novels where the villan isn’t always a Muslim.

    • Jaspal Singh

      Scott,

      Spot on. I have read all of Flynn’s books and to be honest have not found an author that comes close. I like some of Alex Berenson’s stuff, but John Wells is no mitch, although i think that Mark Greaney’s Court Gentry is next in line to Vince but Brad Thor does not seem to keep my interest at all. As one member mentioned; should brad finish of Vince’s work – I think it would be a disaster.

      If you have any recommendations to a good Flynn alternative I would very much be interested!

    • Armando

      That’s funny. When I’m reading a book about fighting terrorists and find out the terrorists in the book are not Muslim I stop reading. I know the book is bullshart at that point. When 99% of the terrorists in the world are Muslim and you are writing a book about killing terrorists they damn well better be Muslim.

  2. brad thor and vince Flynn are both good authors.i have read all their books and they both are very good in their respective heroes roles.after Robert Ludlum they both are very good in the cia or any govt potrayng accents.
    keep up the great work guys
    basil lobo
    Mumbai,india
    20.15 pm
    11.4.2013

  3. Bob

    You can’t read Flynn any longer.

    And, OBTW… Rapp didn’t use torture per say, he just blew another guys head off to get a man to talk.

  4. Jan

    You obviously don’t listen to Glenn Beck if that’s what you believe about him. That aside, I haven’t read either of these authors yet, but your analysis has intrigued me. I think I’ll pick up a few books and do my own. Thanks! :)

  5. thanks for the summary of these 2 authors. I recently delved into flynns books…ALL of them with audiobook. can’t believe 3 short months later there are no more books left :(. I was really looking forward to his new book…posthumously mind you, “the survivor” but understandably its now been shleved…sadly. bc of this I was semi hoping thor might be given a chance to maybe complete the series if flynns family might allow it. I know a long shot. but I had no idea if thor could match rapp…errr flynn ;). I. now listening to my first thor book, the last patriot. with only the first disc done I am beginning to see this articles point but its still early. I intend to make my own assessment but glad I found this review. oh by the way the OP is wayyy off as is usual for soneone who doesn’t do their own HW and jumps to conclusions about beck foxnews and the so called right wing. u are guilty of the very thing u claim they do esp stereotyping. ..otherwise good article :)

  6. Armando

    To the OP. So Mitch Rapp doesn’t do as much torture eh? I think you need to read a few more books. That’s all he does and he is the best at it. It’s actually what I disliked about Scott Harvath at first. He didn’t get to the torture fast enough like Mitch Rapp did. When you need the answers or innocents will die start cutting the GD fingers off already. amiright? :)

  7. Happened upon this blog post while doing research prior to my attendance at a Brad Thor signing tomorrow night. Also just finished his “The Last Patriot”. I’ve read both Thor and Flynn and like them both, for somewhat different reasons. If you have a moment, check out my site and see if you find anything of interest there. I write in the same genre as these two gentlemen.

  8. Ashim Matthan

    I’ve read all of the Mitch Rapp series. He does use torture. It may not be direct but he cuts off testicles of terrorists. I’ve not really all the Scot Harvath series. I don’t know why the Muslims being terrorists thing is an issue. Look around: 99.99% of the terrorists out there ARE Muslim. I’m with Armando: if I read a book and it’s got some non Muslim playing terrorist I stop reading because I know the author is just being politically correct. Also, in the Rapp series the bad guys are also Muslim terrorists. There is internal corruption within the US in both books as well. I don’t see racism in any of this.

  9. Mop

    Before you totally dismiss Thor, read his first. Most first novels really suck, but Lions of Lucerne is probably his best.

    • Mop – See my own opinion below. I did read Lions of Lucerne. Most of these books are unrealistic – so were Flynn’s – but Thor’s are unrealistic on a whole different level. Do you really believe that with a president kidnapped, federal agents would be just lollygagging about making jokes. Nor do I believe that the operation could have gone anything like it did to kidnap him or that these super bad guys would have left the clues they did. I actually liked the book – but he’s no Flynn. Only an aged Forsyth was still in his league.

  10. Brad Thor inspired me so much, I decided to become an author myself. Ive never read Vince Flynn and didnt think thriller’s could get any better than Thor. Anyway, I’ll read Acts of Treason and decide who’s is better for myself. By the way check out my new Chinese Russian book “When The Rains Came” on Amazon. Thank you

  11. bill neftleberg

    Steve Dennie, just proved ridiculous a reviewer can be, while doing as little research as possible. I read both Authors and like both, for different reasons. Steve perhaps you should do a bit more research before you make sweeping generalizations that prove you lack any comprehension. Its fine to prefer one book over another but to write what you did on the Basis of a single book is poor research…..having read both Authors, the character of the Dwarf is by far the most compelling character in either series, though i do find the Stan Hurley character quite intriguing.

    overall Steve, your research needs to be much better and less reliant on a single book

  12. Flynn is better on every level. His books were the epitome of modern action fiction. I’m sorry he’s dead for his and his family’s sake, but if I can be a little selfish, for my own and his other readers’ too. I do not believe Kyle Mill’s will be anywhere near as good though I will give it a try.

  13. Just my 50-cents: Mitch Rapp and Vince Flynn were the best! As one of the commenters above notes, in a contemporary book re a “hitman” written in the last decade, radical jihadists should be the antagonists. Rapp “knows” how to treat them, and there’s no hand-wringing about it. The other authors noted here (I won’t name them) are awful – WHOLLY mediocre writing that is accepted as “good” these days (I’m shocked). I’ve purchased all Flynn’s in paperback for my library. I’m still searching for a comparable author, and so far, the only one worth reading is the John Rain series, by Barry Eisler; just a hitman, without the politics of Rapp. IMHO, the writing is excellent; tight & concise (not sloppy like ALL others I’ve dropped by the 20th page), with excellent pace, plot, and RELEVANT and interesting details. Eisler’s later series about Ben Treven (just another assassin) is mediocre, unfortunately; definitely not the quality of the Rain series. IMHO :) (ps: I’m a female reader)

  14. Larry PARKS

    My wife was always trying to get me to do some reading. so bought a book by Vince Flynn called Extreme Measures for me. After reading this book over the weekend, I happened across two more in a used book store, Consent to Kill and the Third Option. That was it, I was hooked on Flynn, so I turned to Google to find out more about this writer and was very disappointed and sad that such a brilliant writer was now lost to the world. I have since collected the full Mitch Rapp series and read them them in order, including Term Limits. I’m glad Mr Flynn’s family allowed Kyle Mills to complete The Survivor. However at the start of the book you could definitely tell the difference between the writers, but by the time I was halfway thru it was like Vince Flynn was with Mitch all over again. Well done Mr Mills I hope
    you will continue writing. I have now read Reacher and Jack Ryan, but they’re not Mitch

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