by Mark Greaney is an engrossing thriller. After reading this
series Greaney will definitely become a favorite where people
can't wait for the next installment. The main character, Courtland
Gentry, known as the Gray Man, is a former CIA agent, an assassin
turned contractor, who always takes readers on a great ride
as he battles the bad guys.
Greaney describes it as "a cat and mouse adventure story
as people go after this particular guy. Everyone is after
Fan, the Chinese government hacker because if he defects he
becomes like a virus to the Chinese. Because Gentry is a contractor
the CIA can use him as a deniable asset, remaining on the
periphery. He utilizes the CIA and vice versa for them."
The action begins on page one and never lets up. The CIA has
hired Gentry to find Fan Jiang, a Chinese hacker, and an information
technology specialist, who is trying to defect to Taiwan after
he escapes from the Chinese government. Geo-politics comes
into play as both the Russians and Americans race to capture
him for his knowledge of the Chinese systems. But also in
the mix are Chinese agents who are attempting to assassinate
Fan before he divulges any state secrets.
He used the Asia setting to give a shout out to Vietnam veterans.
"I wrote Gentry's father as a Marine Scout sniper who
fought combat missions around Da Nang. I wrote Gentry traveling
to this area because it is a connection between him and his
father. When someone mentions Vietnam you don't think of a
nation but of a war. I also wanted to show that currently,
Vietnam is a place where many westerners travel. I wanted
to travel to Vietnam, but needed ankle surgery so I could
not go. While writing a Clancy novel I did a lot of research
on Hong Kong and Beijing. These are all interesting places
to me and I knew I wanted them all as a setting for a Gray
Man book. The people, buildings, architecture, and crowds
would be fun to place in an action-packed novel."
Against seemingly overwhelming odds Gentry must use his wits
and moral code to complete the mission. The characters in
this novel are very well developed. The Gray Man is a complex
figure that allows readers to root for someone with integrity.
He is a good person who must do some bad things to succeed.
The female lead is Zoya Zakharova, the beautiful Russian foreign
intelligence agent assigned to bring Fan Jiang to Russia.
She's Gentry's one adversary who is his equal, a female "Gray
Man," a kindred spirit. Readers will hope that she and
Gentry are put together in future books because the interaction
between them is superb.
The Gray Man is "based on individuals who never
stand out. I found out about this term when I did my research.
It is someone in the military or intelligence that moves around
in a low profile. He physically moves around without drawing
a lot of attention to himself. Regarding his personality,
his moral compass does not always point North. Not a black
hat versus a white hat; there is a lot of gray. Even though
he sometimes does bad things he is still seen as a good guy."
As with all of Gray Man books, the excitement, tension, and
action are never ending. There is never a dull moment.