June 19, 2013 / 6:35 PM / 5 years ago

Vince Flynn, author of Mitch Rapp thriller series, dead from cancer

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - Vince Flynn, the best-selling author of the Mitch Rapp series of political thrillers that includes “American Assassin” and “The Last Man,” died on Wednesday at age 47 after a battle with prostate cancer, his representatives said.

Flynn, who turned to writing as a way of fighting his dyslexia, died at a hospital in his hometown of St. Paul, Minnesota, said David Brown, spokesman for Atria Books, an imprint of Simon & Schuster that publishes the author’s novels.

Flynn’s most recently published book was “The Last Man” in 2012. Atria will put out “The Survivor” in October.

All but one of Flynn’s 14 novels center on fictional character Mitch Rapp, an operative for the Central Intelligence Agency who targets Islamic militants and often takes extreme measures to achieve his goals.

Flynn regularly made the New York Times best-seller list, and after the publication of his 2007 novel “Protect and Defend” he began topping the list.

Flynn self-published his first novel, “Term Limits,” which became a runaway success in the Twin Cities area of Minnesota and led to a deal with an imprint of Simon & Schuster Inc. It published the book for wider release in 1997 and saw the work become a New York Times best seller in paperback.

Like the books that would follow, “Term Limits” was a political thriller. But it did not feature Rapp, who would make his first appearance in Flynn’s next book, “Transfer of Power,” in 1999.

Among Flynn’s best-known books is “American Assassin,” which was published in 2010 and chronicled Rapp’s first assignment as a CIA operative after losing his high school sweetheart in the 1988 bombing of Pan Am flight 103 over Lockerbie, Scotland.

“It has been our distinct honor to publish Vince Flynn for the entire length of his career,” Carolyn Reidy, president and CEO of Simon & Schuster Inc, said in a statement. “As good as Vince was on the page - and he gave millions of readers countless hours of pleasure - he was even more engaging in person.”

Flynn was a frequent guest on cable television news programs such as “The O’Reilly Factor” on the Fox network.

Before becoming a writer, Flynn worked in sales and marketing at Kraft General Foods before leaving in 1990 to join the U.S. Marine Corps as an aviation candidate. He had to leave the program due to medical problems stemming from concussions and seizures suffered as a child, according to his publisher.

Flynn announced in 2011 that he had Stage III metastatic prostate cancer.

He is survived by his wife, Lysa Flynn, and three children.

Reporting by Alex Dobuzinskis; Editing by Bill Trott

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