Vince Flynn, the best-selling political thriller author, died of cancer Wednesday morning at the age of 47 in his native Minnesota. The 12 novels of his "Mitch Rapp" series followed the adventures of a CIA counterterrorism agent who thwarts various attempts by terrorists (many of them based on real-life evil doers) to attack America.
Flynn became the "darling of conservatives," as the Hollywood Reporter put it, for what they characterized as his well researched and breathtakingly composed novels. A 2005 profile of the author said Flynn, "keeps his name in the public's scope on talk radio and television programs, including Fox News' Hannity & Colmes, where he is asked at least as many questions about his views on real-life counterterrorism efforts as he is about his fiction."
Flynn self-published his first novel "Term Limits" after receiving 60 rejection letters from publishers. With its success he was able to work out a publishing deal, and his next book, "Transfer of Power," started the Mitch Rapp series.
The war on terror served as a backdrop of the thrillers, and Flynn was particularly critical of Islamic fundamentalism – even before the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks. By his ninth novel, "Protect and Defend," he had reached the top of the New York Times bestseller list.
His books also piqued the interest of the D.C. political community. President Bill Clinton and President George W. Bush both reportedly read his books, with the latter calling him, "a little too accurate." Flynn's website brags that a high-ranking CIA official told colleagues, "I want you to read Flynn's books and start thinking about how we can more effectively wage this war on terror."
Flynn spoke often about his political views, describing himself a registered Republican but not someone who necessarily agreed with all the party line (particularly on social issues). He also pointed out that his characters spanned the political spectrum and that his hero was "neutral."
Nevertheless he was suspicious that Hollywood stayed away from his works because of his personal politics. CBS did eventually buy the film rights to his Mitch Rapp franchise, and even attempted to bring on Chris Hemsworth for the leading role until scheduling issues got in the way. Flynn also consulted on the fifth season of "24," the Fox spy hit.
Once he was diagnosed with prostate cancer in 2010, Flynn kept his fans updated on the status of his health through his blog. His publishers were unable to say whether enough of his latest book, "The Survivor," was finished for its scheduled October release.
He leaves his wife Lysa, two daughters and a stepson.