in Place by
Mark Greaney has lots of action, some current events, and
a great storyline. The main character, Court Gentry, known
as “The Gray Man” ventures into places where not
many would dare to go having to overcome some very bad people.
The reader feels as if they are placed right into the center
of the Syrian Civil War as they go along for the ride with
Gentry as he faces all of the different factions and players
including mercenaries, the Free Syrian Army, ISIS, the Russians,
just to mention a few.
Greaney wants “Court to operate with a mission he thought
of as noble. Because I have been interested in this Civil
War ever since it started I decided to create this idea for
the story. Assad is currently using chlorine against his people
and seems to get away with quite a bit. It seems over the
years governments say, ‘we will never let this happen
again.’ When it happens again they look the other way
and appear to do nothing. It is pretty pathetic. Many of those
who are anti-Assad or in my case anti- al-Azzam are radical
Jihadists. There is the saying, ‘the enemy of my enemy
is my friend,’ but the reverse is also true. Then there
is Russia that basically wants to use Syria as an aircraft
carrier in the Mediterranean, where they have a military presence.
All these groups including those against the Russians commit
atrocities, but then there are the innocent children and those
who just want to live their lives. It is not like World War
II where there were distinct good guys versus bad guys.”
The novel begins with ISIS about to execute Court. The story
then backtracks a week ago to show readers how Gentry got
into this mess, to begin with. Because he was never an official
employee of the CIA Court decides which missions he will choose,
some for the Spy Agency and some from freelance work. In this
case, he is working on his own for the Halabys, leaders of
the Free Syria Exile Union who hire him to kidnap the mistress
of the Syrian President, the model Bianca Medina. The plan
is to have her release information that will deal a serious
blow to the Syrian regime and hasten the end of the cruel
civil war. Complications arise when she refuses unless her
son is rescued from the grips of his father, Ahmed al-Azzam,
the Syrian President. After agreeing to this new job, Gentry
realizes that there is a tangled web including Syria’s
First Lady who wants Bianca and the heir to the throne dead.
The tension ratchets up even higher from here.
His nickname of “The Gray Man” suits Gentry since
he always seems to keep a low profile and work in the shadows.
He's a fiercely loyal and trustworthy individual and when
he says he's got your back you can believe him. What makes
him special is his desire to do what is necessary to make
sure the bad guys never are a threat again. It is a welcome
relief considering the real world has the bad guys winning
way too much.
Greaney uses current events to make the plot even more realistic.
“It is very important to me not to make them so complex
they are not understandable. Of course, I am obviously pushing
the envelope, but I do want everything to be possible. I hope
Court is not viewed as a Superhero like Captain America. Instead,
he should be seen with vulnerabilities and can get hurt at
any time. For example, there is a kernel of truth about my
character, Shakira Azzam, and the real Syrian First Lady.
In this book, she is a power broker because she is villainous.
She is beautiful, brilliant, and was once referred to as ‘the
Rose of the Desert’, and ‘Lady Diana of the Middle
East.’ But in actuality, she is a master manipulator
and wants to be in control. Now, after seven years of a Civil
War, her public image has been destroyed, and she is now referred
to as ‘The First Lady of Hell.’”
Agent In Place blends historical facts, current events, and
a gripping action-packed story. It is nice to have The Gray
Man fighting on the side of righteousness.