The Gray Man by Mark Greaney

The Gray Man by Mark Greaney
Publisher: Sphere (Penguin House)
Genre: Contemporary, Mystery/Suspense/Thriller, Action/Adventure
Rating: 3 stars
Reviewed by Fern

To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.

But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. Forces like money. And power. And there are men who hold these as the only currency worth fighting for. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness.

But Court Gentry is going to prove that, for him, there’s no gray area between killing for a living and killing to stay alive….

Court Gentry lurks in the shadows – quietly killing the targets he’s given then fading back away. Only when a powerful man is determined to spare nothing to ensure Court’s head becomes his newest trophy does Court’s carefully crafted world come tumbling down. With even his closest allies forced against him, Court needs to dig deep and use everything he’s got to escape with his life.

I found this to be a really well paced and solidly plotted “secret assassin has the tables turned” sort of story. While superficially this is like a number of other stories out there, I found that I quickly got sucked into enjoying both Court’s character and eager to see how things would unfold next. While he isn’t an anti-hero like many assassin characters are nowadays – there are still small amounts of loyalty and patriotism inside Court’s makeup – Court is also extremely pragmatic and doesn’t yearn for things to be different or for a lifestyle that simply isn’t achievable for him anymore. I found this quite endearing, and it really helped sell me on his character and the book as a whole.

I absolutely admit I felt a fair bit of sympathy for Court’s handler – Donald Fitzroy. Without giving too much away I strongly feel he was put in a horrendous situation – a genuine “no win” sort of position – and while we all might be able to talk about various options or differences in how we would handle such a thing, I truly felt like Fitzroy did the best he could. Certainly, Gentry was given a raw deal having to fend for his life, but I definitely feel like Fitzroy had an equally bad time of the entire situation. It’s not often I feel deep empathy for a secondary character and not the main protagonist, so this surprised me and helped the book feel fresh and different to me.

Readers looking for an exciting, action orientated espionage style of story should feel this really fits the bill. There are a bunch of cannon-fodder character deaths and plenty of shoot ‘em up scenes without an extreme amount of gore or dwelling on the violence. The bad guys here are actually bad – so I did feel in places the story got a bit gritty – readers looking for something a little easier or gentle might not find this fits the bill for them.

A fast paced and interesting thriller, this is a great book. I’ll be looking for the next in the series.