I’m devastated to learn, and saddened to report, that Vince Flynn — one of my all-time favorite thriller authors, and one of my all-time most-admired people — has just died at the tragically young age of 47.
If there is a Valhalla for life’s great and noble warriors, Vince Flynn deserves to occupy the throne there.
Vince was a bestselling giant in the thriller field. But he was much more: a devoted husband and father, a man of principle and courage, and a ferociously dedicated American patriot. All of these elements of his character were embodied in his many thrillers, and in his iconic fictional hero, Mitch Rapp.
Over several recent years, Vince bravely battled prostate cancer, yet still continued to write through horrific pain and debilitating physical deterioration. In recent months, he kept the late stages of his battle private from us all, never letting on publicly that things were getting worse. Indeed, his latest monthly newsletter, issued in May, gave no hint of his dire circumstances. Instead, he took that occasion to announce the scheduled fall 2013 publication date of his next Mitch Rapp thriller, titled — ironically — The Survivor.
Vince Flynn filled his all-too-brief years with more life than most of us will ever know, fulfilling many dreams the rest of us would never dare, and inspiring countless others by the courage of his example. I proudly count myself as one of those who was so inspired.
I had several opportunities to meet Vince, first at some of his public book signings. Then he did me the great honor to let me interview him for the March 2008 issue of The New Individualist magazine. That interview, which I have reprinted here in three parts on this blog, reveals why this man was so extraordinary — and why I shall miss him so very much.
Well done, Vince. Well done.
UPDATE: Among the many glowing tributes to Vince over the past 24 hours, I think that this remembrance, by veteran journalist Claudia Rosett, is particularly relevant to readers here. Rosett focuses on the qualities in his Mitch Rapp protagonist that make him an archetypal vigilante hero: his willingness to stand alone for justice, even in the face of laws and the enormous powers wielded by corrupt government officials. As Rosett’s fine piece makes clear, Vince Flynn was a true “vigilante author” — perhaps the best and most successful of our era.
UPDATE #2: I just posted this personal video tribute to Vince Flynn on a Facebook page established for that purpose tonight. It’s amateurish…but heartfelt. Perhaps it captures just a bit of what I loved about Vince as a writer, and even more as a man.