Anyone looking for an action thriller hero need look no further than here, to Court Gentry. After running afoul of his bosses in the CIA and being put on that agency's shoot-on-sight-list, Gentry has been earning his living doing what he has been trained to do, he takes out targets he is paid to terminate. Anyone associated with hired assassins knows about The Gray Man. This man has the uncanny ability to simply fade into the background. His targets never see him coming and the investigations afterward never find any connection to anyone. The reputation of this man grows to legendary proportions because of his complete anonymity, nobody is ever completely sure of who he actually is. There is only one man who positively knows the identity of this operative, his handler Sir Donald Fitzroy of Cheltenham Security Services. At least that's what Sir Donald thought. Someone literally wants The Gray Man's head delivered on a platter and there is no limit to the amount of money they are willing to spend to achieve that goal. What follows is an incredibly exciting journey from Iraq to a chateau in Normandy with danger, destruction, and death all along the route. A bounty has been put on The Gray Man's head and paid assassins have been invited to join in the hunt to see who can deliver him, dead or alive, to the chateau before the time limit runs out.
I had to keep reminding myself that this is a debut novel for author Mark Greaney. The plotting for this book is outstanding. The pace started out with an exciting episode and just never let up. The man behind the legend was very slowly revealed so that he did seem to be a shadowy figure, a ghostly figure, someone who could fade in and out simply because there was no substance to him. Over time this very talented author lets the reader come closer and closer to the main character to glimpse his intelligence, his efficiency in doing his work, and his moral code. It may sound unusual to consider that a person who kills for a living would have a moral compass but Court Gentry does. And it is believable. Characters are well defined and clear, the dialogue is crisp and clean and well suited to each character. This author did a wonderful job of describing both locations and weaponry used in the story and it is very obvious that he is familiar with both subjects. While there are a large number of professional killers involved in tracking Gentry down, I think this was necessary to represent the "contest" nature of the hunt. I really like that Greaney finished off the story by tying up loose ends, nothing was left unresolved. And yet, could it possibly be that The Gray Man isn't finished yet? I certainly hope not.
I do not assign 5 star ratings to books lightly. They have to earn that designation from me. This book would probably get an even higher rating from me if the Amazon system would allow it. I found the book to be well written, well plotted, and very, very exciting.
I received a free copy of this book from the publisher.