Before we get started, SPOILER ALERT! If you haven’t read all of the Mitch Rapp novels by Vince Flynn, most importantly (for this article) American Assassin, Transfer of Power, Consent to Kill, and The Survivor—STOP READING NOW!
Seriously, HUGE SPOILERS AHEAD, do NOT continue on if you haven’t read the entire Mitch Rapp series.
Last chance, after this there are no more warnings and no turning back!
Still with me? Here we go….
It’s been a long time coming, and now it’s time to finally reveal the top villain of the Mitch Rapp universe. I put a lot of thought into this, including the best way to present the number one bad guy, and decided I’ll give you some hints to see if you can guess who it is before I reveal them. Let’s see if these clues help!
What if I told you the biggest villain Mitch Rapp has encountered during his career is responsible for killing the love of his life? Don’t guess yet, though, there’s more!
This villain ripped Mitch’s heart out, forcing him to reconsider his life and dedicate himself to killing bad guys for the CIA to deal with his pain. This villain turned Rapp into the ruthless killer that he is today–but only after a period where Mitch disappeared from the outside world and shut out even those who cared about him while he grieved.
This villain in a ruthless killer, who Rapp hunted down and …. wait a second, here’s where I throw a curve ball into this list and shake things up a bit. Make your final guess, and then scroll down.
So, who is it?
If you guessed Rafique Aziz, then you’re correct! And if you guessed Louie Gould, you’re also correct! That’s right, it’s a TIE for the best villain of the Mitch Rapp universe! Now let me explain why.
I seriously agonized over this for months. Back in December, I launched The Real Book Spy, which means I’m super busy reading a ton of other books. To stay sharp on all of my Rapp facts, I bought Vince Flynn’s entire series on Audible and listen to them as I fall asleep. (It’s true, my wife is on Twitter so feel free to ask her!) I also start my day reading one of Vince’s books instead of watching Mike & Mike in the morning on ESPN, which was my normal routine for many years.
I love being ‘The Book Spy,’ but I really love being ‘The Rappologist.’ It’s important to me to stay sharp and keep this site going because I love the Rapp series more now than I did when I started MitchRappFan. Reading a hundred other non-Rapp books this year has only made me appreciate Vince’s writing (and now Kyle’s) all the more. Rapp truly is the BEST character in print today!
It was important to me to get this list right, and so far the feedback has been pretty good. A lot of people agree with the names on the list (which is broken into five parts, read parts one, two, three and four), even if they disagree with the order I’ve ranked them. So to pick the baddest of all the bad guys, I had to channel Mitch Rapp. In doing so, I realized that it’s impossible to pick either Gould over Aziz, or Aziz over Gould, because they both damaged Rapp in very similar ways.
For those who need a refresher, Rafique Aziz is the antagonist in Transfer of Power, which was the first Rapp novel Vince Flynn ever wrote. In that book, Flynn revealed to us how Mitch came to join the CIA after the love of his life (at least at the time) was killed while returning home from a semester abroad.
Her name was Maureen Elliot, and she and Mitch were high school sweethearts. Mitch turned down a lacrosse scholarship offer from North Carolina to follow Maureen to Syracuse, where he became one of the greatest collegiate lacrosse players of all time. They were in love, and had their life together all planned out. Then the attack happened, and Maureen–along with 258 other passengers–was killed when Pan Am Flight 103 exploded over Lockerbie, Scotland.
Following Maureen’s death, Rapp, who was home for Christmas break, disappeared into his mother’s basement for days. He only surfaced long enough to attend Maureen’s funeral, which is where he turned from sad to angry. At that moment, Rapp knew what he wanted to do with his life–hunt down all the terrorists responsible for Maureen’s death and kill them.
Mitch was twenty-one years old when Maureen was killed. Two years later, Irene Kennedy, who had found Mitch and made him her prized recruit for a special new program the CIA was putting together called the Orion Team, dropped him off at Stan Hurley’s place to begin his unique training.
After the events of American Assassin and Kill Shot, there’s a gap of about six years until we see Mitch again in Transfer of Power. This, of course, is the result of Vince Flynn going back a decade later and writing two prequel novels to better tell the story of how how Mitch became the man we all know and love. Unfortunately, a planned third book that would have taken place just after Kill Shot never happened because of Vince Flynn’s tragic passing in 2013.
The events of Term Limits, Flynn’s debut standalone novel–which hardly “stands alone,” but rather right freaking next to the Rapp series, as it stars Scott Coleman, Irene Kennedy, Thomas Stansfield, and other known characters from the Rapp universe– also takes place between Kill Shot and Transfer of Power. So where is Mitch Rapp during this time?
For a really detailed explanation, read this article I wrote last year breaking it all down.
To sum it up, it’s very likely that Mitch Rapp was hunting down Rafique Aziz, who kept slipping away each time Mitch closed in on him. We know Rapp got very close to him once, close enough that Aziz left Rapp with a scar that runs down the left side of his face, just above his jawline. It’s still visible even after multiple surgeries, which is fine with Mitch because in a weird way he finds it quite satisfying.
Before he actually killed Aziz, the scar served as motivation while he was hunting him down. After he killed him, it was a reminder that he accomplished his goal (and who ever said that Mitch Rapp isn’t sentimental?).
At the age of thirty-one, Rapp finally put a bullet in the skull of Rafique Aziz, ending a decade-long personal mission and promise that he’d made to himself. He finally, finally had closure on Maureen’s death. He was at peace…
Of course, part of the reason Rapp was at peace during that moment in his life had to do with a new relationship he was in. While Rafique was responsible for killing Rapp’s first love, ironically it was Aziz’s actions that led to Rapp finding his future wife, Anna Rielly.
During Transfer of Power, Rafique Aziz took the White House hostage, forcing the president to hide in his bunker. Yes, Olympus Has Fallen was a total ripoff of Vince’s book, and so was White House Down. Hollywood should be ashamed, but no, they never are. Moving on…
It just so happened that a young reporter named Anna Rielly had moved from Chicago to take a position as NBC’s new White House correspondent, and was spending her first day on the job when Aziz launched his attack. Anna, along with seventy-five others, was captured and held hostage inside the White House.
Mitch Rapp was tasked with infiltrating the White House and providing real-time updates as he searched to confirm the location of the president, as well as his current status. Shortly after sneaking into the White House basement, entering through a hidden air duct, Rapp sets up camp in the president’s bedroom, taking shelter inside a well-disguised panic room behind the walk-in closet.
While still inside the panic room, Mitch watched on a security camera as a beautiful woman with brunette hair was carried into the bedroom by one of the terrorists, who was trying to rape her. Anna had been raped once before while living in Chicago, and fought to keep that nightmare from happening again.
Mitch turned off his radio, knowing for certain that the people back at Langley watching him would order him to stand down the second they realized what he was about to do. Exiting the panic room, Rapp used his knife to slit the terrorist’s throat, then left shallow puncture wounds all over the man’s body–leaving the impression that Anna had gotten hold of his knife and killed him. Rapp then took Anna safely back into the panic room.
Mitch and Anna had instant chemistry, and were both immediately attracted to each other. Of course, that all came to a temporary sudden halt when Rapp found out Anna was a reporter. His presence in the White House was top secret information, and he was concerned she would turn the entire ordeal into a news story–blowing his cover in the process. Originally, that was Anna’s natural intention, but she finally vowed to stay silent, opening the door for their chemistry to come flooding back.
At the end of Transfer of Power, Rapp and Anna finally shared a kiss and made arrangements to go out for dinner. In the epilogue, Mitch is seen finally having caught up to Aziz, who narrowly escaped the White House, and shooting him in the head.
Months later, in The Third Option, Rapp and Anna’s relationship has become more serious. That continues, and the two get engaged in Separation of Power and married sometime before Executive Power. Anna is absent in Memorial Day, as she’s already with her family in Wisconsin waiting for Rapp, who got sidetracked trying to stop a nuclear attack on America. She then returns in Consent to Kill, where it’s revealed that she’s pregnant with their first child.
Rapp considers a career change multiple times between The Third Option and Consent to Kill, often at the urging of Anna, who simply wanted him out of harm’s way. Delighted by the news that Anna is expecting, Rapp is finally ready to give up his career in the field and settle down…but that never happens.
Louie Gould, unbeknownst to Rapp, had been hired to kill Mitch. The person who fronted the money to have Gould, one of the world’s best contract killers, go after Mitch was a grief-stricken father who believed Rapp had killed his son. His son was a terrorist, and while Rapp should have killed him, he didn’t. Well, he hadn’t yet.
Upon returning home from knee surgery, Rapp made his way through his house and out onto the back patio. A stop at McDonald’s on the way home left him feeling nauseous, so he stayed outside to get some fresh air. Suddenly an explosion rang out. The force threw Mitch from his deck into the Potomac River and killed Anna.
Initially Rapp vowed to find Louie Gould, the man responsible for staging what looked like a gas leak explosion at his home and killing his wife and unborn child. But in the end, he allowed Gould the chance to live a new life after seeing Louie’s newborn daughter, who was named after Rapp’s wife.
Between Consent to Kill and Act of Treason, Rapp hunted killers for nine months. He took his anger out on bad guys, but it didn’t help. He tried pills, but those didn’t work either. So, like he did after Maureen’s death, Mitch disappeared, only this time it wasn’t to his mom’s basement.
Rapp flew to Paris, made a stop in Switzerland, and then dropped off the face of the earth for two months. He drank excessively and binged on opium in Bangkok for a week, and even tried sleeping around with different women. He felt guilty for Anna’s death and was miserable.
Finally, at his lowest point, Rapp turned on the television in his hotel room in Calcutta and saw that the president’s motorcade had been blown up back in the States. Much like that moment at Maureen’s funeral, Rapp, now thirty-nine years old, made peace with who he was and what he was about to do. He was motivated again, and knew that if he didn’t get back to hunting down and killing terrorists, he would drink himself to death.
On that same page in Act of Treason, Vince Flynn wrote, “Rapp was a lot of things, but nothing more than a survivor,” which leads perfectly into what happened later on, during The Survivor.
It turns out that Gould, being the piece of trash that he is, never stopped killing people for money. On a secret job in Jalalabad, during The Last Man, Louie finds out that his mystery target is none other than Mitch Rapp. Before he can shoot Mitch with a rifle from across the street, he discovers that he’s been crossed by his employer. Killing Rapp will mean certain death for himself, so he instead runs over to team up with Rapp and Coleman.
Gould doesn’t hang around too long in The Last Man, as he’s eventually taken into custody by the CIA. Of course that’s all very off-the-books, and we don’t see him again until The Survivor–where we learn he’s being held prisoner in the basement of Stan Hurley’s new place. To finally put an end to the events from The Last Man, Rapp will need Gould’s help, which makes for a dicey situation.
Halfway through their mission, fueled by his desire to be the greatest contract killer in the world, Gould double-crosses Rapp. Killing Mitch would certainly earn him the top spot among living assassins, but once again Gould underestimates Mitch and his buddies. When a fight breaks out, Rapp is forced to go for armed guards, leaving a dying, old Stan Hurley to take on Gould.
Mitch turns just in time to see Louie empty his gun into the torso of Hurley, who had buried his face in Gould’s neck. Falling to the ground, Hurley takes a massive chunk of Gould’s neck with him, severing Gould’s jugular vein in the process. Stan dies, but not before getting his–and taking out Gould in the process.
For whatever reason, Mitch always had a weird relationship with Gould. I was stunned when he didn’t kill him at the end of Consent to Kill. I’m sure it all has something to do with Anna, and not wanting to stain her name with blood–but I really thought Rapp would eventually kill Louie, just like he did Aziz. Instead, Hurley took care of him, which is fine with me as long as Gould is finally dead!
In the end, I found it impossible to chose one villain over the other. I suppose an argument could be made that Gould hurt Rapp the most because he was actually married to Anna and she was pregnant with their first child at the time of her death. Then again, had Aziz not killed Maureen, Rapp would have married her, never joined the CIA, or met Anna.
That’s why this is so hard, because the two are very (ironically) connected. Mitch wouldn’t be an assassin for the CIA had Maureen not been killed, but Anna’s death made him infinitely more dark and troubled. Rapp is considerably more violent and ruthless after Anna’s death than before, like when he started slicing off terrorist’s gonads to make then talk–or shoving phosphorous grenades in people’s mouths.
That downward spiral continues until Stan kills Gould in The Survivor, at which point we start to see Rapp get a piece of his soul back. I expect Kyle Mills will continue that trend in the next book, due out sometime this fall. Does that make Gould worse? Maybe. Then again, Aziz was a terrorist who probably killed more people than Louie.
So to conclude the list, Rafique Aziz and Louie Gould are my 1A and 1B best villains of the Mitch Rapp universe, and I hate them both equally–as I’m sure Mitch does too.
Let me know if you agree with me in the comment section, and make sure to check back for more fun analysis of the Mitch Rapp series!