“Gunmetal Gray” by Mark Greaney; Berkley (512 pages, $27)
For several years now, Mark Greaney has been touted as one of the successors to Tom Clancy, who died in 2013. That’s a fitting comparison as Greaney co-wrote several of Clancy’s novels while also launching his own series about Courtland Gentry, who’s often called The Gray Man.
In his superior sixth novel about the contract agent for the CIA, Greeney again proves that his books stand on their own as he continues to shape new espionage stories for the changing political environment.
“Gunmetal Gray” again finds the freelance assassin back with the CIA as a contract agent and, as usual, Court’s assignment is fraught with complicated government conspiracies and high-tech weapons. Court has to maneuver among Russian and Chinese agents, Vietnamese soldiers and a few gangsters in tracking down Fan Jiang, considered to be the world’s greatest hacker, who has escaped from mainland China. The chase moves throughout eastern Asia as Court pretends to align himself with the Chinese agents, falls for a Russian spy and tries to save the life of a British agent held captive.
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Despite the novel’s length, the breathless plot of “Gunmetal Gray” barely pauses for the next bit of action, as Greaney handles each aspect with aplomb. Yet amid the myriad betrayals and twists and the reliance on sophisticated weapons, Greaney delivers a thoughtful character study of a man forever haunted by his own darkness but not given to too much introspective thought. As well as being a lethal agent, Court also is the consummate actor, quickly summing up any situation.
“Gunmetal Gray” again secures Greaney’s place among the top authors of espionage.