“Back Blast” by Mark Greaney brings back the Gray Man, a former paramilitary officer with an agenda. Anyone looking for characters and plotlines in the fashion of Vince Flynn’s Mitch Rapp series should read this book. It discusses intelligence organizational politics, technology possibilities, and has a main character whose job it is to assassinate bad guys. The plot is spellbinding and riveting with non-stop action.
The Gray Man, Court Gentry, has been away from the US for five years. He has returned to find out why his former agency, the CIA, has turned on him, putting a “kill on sight order.” Realizing he can trust no one he must stay one step ahead of those targeting him. As bodies pile up Court is blamed for all the deaths, even those he is not responsible for; yet, the Gray Man has the ability to outthink and outgun those hunting for him.
The characters are captivating. Court Gentry morally does not wear the black or white hat. But readers root for him, knowing that all his missions were necessary to keep Americans safe. This book gives insight into the personality of Court. Layers of his past are revealed, which allows the readers to understand this very complex character. Over the years he has matured and has become wiser, less trusting, and more fatalistic. At times he is the hunter searching for his prey, but soon he becomes the hunted. What makes this character so fascinating is his ability to take the offense when he should be on the run.
Regarding the firearms scenes, Greaney says he owned “a lot of weapons the characters use in my books. In researching this book I did a lot of firearms training with the leading arms instructor for naval special warfare. I also trained with a bunch of SWAT guys who had me be a part of the opposition force. The SWAT team came into a dark house with their flashlights to shoot me with paint balls. I was sore for weeks. Friends of mine are tactical officers whose brains I picked for a free breakfast.”
Contrast that with Denney Carmichael, the Director of the National Clandestine Service. His attitude learned, from his Vietnam days, is kill or be killed. Wanting to climb the ladder in the Agency, his ambitions dictated his desire to eliminate anything construed as negative, including Court. By creating this elaborate frame up of the Gray Man Carmichael is able to deflect criticism off of himself, and protect what he construes as national security.
An interesting character brought in to make the story more realistic is the reporter Catherine King. Readers will be reminded of Sharyl Attkisson. Someone who searches for the truth while uncovering a story, that has no agenda other than finding the facts and the reasons behind why events unfold. These days there are not many reporters whom people can respect, but King fits into that mold.
Greaney commented to blackfive.net, “Catherine King was based on some real national security reporters. What the Gray Man had done all over the world is now happening in Washington DC. I thought it would be interesting to have reporters trying to figure out what is going on and how the press would deal with it. I think Catherine has a lot of integrity. My father was in TV news, head of the NBC affiliate in Tennessee. Because of his experience I felt a deep understanding of the media since I have been around it.”
“Back Blast” is one of those books where readers will not want to put it down. Many of the details are very realistic and the thrilling action will keep people glued to the pages. Anyone interested in an espionage spy novel should read this book.