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By Millie Naylor Hast

When a playwright/game writer/screenwriter writes a novel, could it be anything but original and fabulous? LICENSE TO DIE, by Haris Orkin, not only doesn’t disappoint, it’s a fantastic read! If you are looking for a thriller with a lighter touch for summer reading, this is it.

In LICENSE TO DIE, we meet James Flynn, who can only be described as James Bond meets One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest. Flynn knows he is an operative for His Majesty’s Secret Service with a 00 designation, a license to kill. Everyone else has a license to die. For the past 20 years, he has been working undercover as a resident of the privately owned City of Roses Psychiatric Institute. At first, he doesn’t know that the family member who’d been paying his way has died, and the man’s son has no interest in spending money on him. The son has James transferred to a state-run psychiatric facility, where things quickly go south, and hilarity ensues.

In the words of bestselling author Chuck Palahniuk, “A good story should make you laugh, and a moment later, break your heart.” LICENSE TO DIE does all of that, as we root for James to survive his brutal new setting, which he views as an assignment from MI-6. When he escapes with three other inmates, including the caustic Caitlyn Valentine, we root even harder. Will this crew be able to accomplish their mission? And will James ever be able to return to City of Roses? The surprising ending to this will tug at your heart, and you may have to wipe a bit of moisture from your eye.

The Big Thrill sat down with Haris Orkin to discuss LICENSE TO DIE, book four in his James Flynn Escapades:

Haris Orkin

A novel is such a major undertaking; there’s the writing of it, of course, then you’re spending months and months revising, polishing, and then promoting it. How did you know this was the book you wanted to spend the next couple of years on?

I’ve been writing the Flynn Escapade series since 2017 and one of the things I worry about is repeating myself. I want every new novel to please fans of the first few books, but also offer them something new and surprising. I want Flynn to grow as a character. I want there to be an overall arc to his story. But I’m also hoping each book is a little better than the last.


Were there any particular books, movies, or songs that were knocking around in your head while you were writing this one?

Of course, the Bond novels and films are always an inspiration. Those are the source of Flynn’s fixation and delusion and how he sees the world. I loved the recent streaming TV version of The Ipcress File. The 1960s setting was very evocative. I always listen to James Bond themes from the 60s to get myself in Flynn’s headspace.

When you first created your protagonist for this book, did you see an empty space in crime lit that you wanted to fill? What can you share about the inspiration for that character?

The main inspiration for Flynn is Don Quixote. I’ve long wanted to figure out a contemporary version. Today’s version of a night errant would probably be a superhero. But I wanted to ground Flynn’s delusion in something slightly more realistic, so I settled on international super spy. I can’t think of any character in contemporary crime lit who shares Flynn’s unique character traits.

In addition to a great read, what do you hope readers will take away from this story?

That everyone’s version of reality is a little bit different and that we all live in our own peculiar bubbles. It’s clear from the current political situation that very few of us are living exactly the same reality. Hopefully, people will look inward a little and see that everything they think is true might not be. What’s great about books and movies and even video games is that for a short period of time, we can live in another’s skin for a short while and see the world from another point of view.

What can you share about what you’re working on next?

I’m working on the next Flynn Escapade. This one is set in London. Flynn’s heartbroken and a little lost and the reality of contemporary London collides with the fictional version he has in his head. This fifth book in the series is less of an action adventure and more of a spy thriller.


Haris Orkin is an author, playwright, screenwriter, and game writer. His play Dada premiered at The La Jolla Playhouse. A Saintly Switch was produced by Disney and was directed by Peter Bogdanovich. He has written screenplays for Universal, Sony, Fox, and Paramount. His video games have been nominated for the WGA Award and the BAFTA. His James Flynn Thriller series is published by Black Rose Writing. You Only Live Once and Once Is Never Enough were published in 2020 and 2021. Goldhammer was published in 2022. The fourth book in the series, LICENSE TO DIE, is scheduled to be released in July.

To learn more about the author, please visit his website.


Millie Naylor Hast