“Gunmetal Gray” by Mark Greaney is an engrossing thriller. After reading this series, Greaney will definitely become a favorite where people can’t wait for the next installment. The main character, Courtland Gentry, known as the Gray Man, is a former CIA agent, an assassin-turned-contractor, who always takes readers on a great ride as he battles the bad guys.
Greaney describes it as “a cat and mouse adventure story as people go after this particular guy. Everyone is after Fan, the Chinese government hacker, because if he defects he becomes like a virus to the Chinese. Because Gentry is a contractor the CIA can use him as a deniable asset, remaining on the periphery. He utilizes the CIA and vice versa for them.”
The action begins on page one and never lets up. The CIA has hired Gentry to find Fan Jiang, a Chinese hacker and an information technology specialist, who is trying to defect to Taiwan after he escapes from the Chinese government. Geopolitics comes into play as both the Russians and Americans race to capture him for his knowledge of the Chinese systems. But also in the mix are Chinese agents who are attempting to assassinate Fan before he divulges any state secrets.
He used the Asia setting to give a shout out to Vietnam veterans.
“I wrote Gentry’s father as a Marine scout sniper who fought combat missions around Da Nang,” Greaney said. “I wrote Gentry traveling to this area because it is a connection between him and his father. When someone mentions Vietnam you don’t think of a nation, but of a war. I also wanted to show that currently Vietnam is a place where many westerners travel. I wanted to travel to Vietnam, but needed ankle surgery so I could not go. While writing a Clancy novel I did a lot of research on Hong Kong and Beijing. These are all interesting places to me and I knew I wanted them all as a setting for a Gray Man book. The people, buildings, architecture, and crowds would be fun to place in an action-packed novel.”
Against seemingly overwhelming odds, Gentry must use his wits and moral code to complete the mission. The characters in this novel are very well developed. The Gray Man is a complex figure that allows readers to root for someone with integrity. He is a good person who must do some bad things to succeed. The female lead is Zoya Zakharova, the beautiful Russian foreign intelligence agent assigned to bring Fan Jiang to Russia. She’s Gentry’s one adversary who is his equal, a female “Gray Man,” a kindred spirit. Readers will hope that she and Gentry are put together in future books because the interaction between them is superb.
The Gray Man is “based on individuals who never stand out,” Greaney said. “I found out about this term when I did my research. It is someone in the military or intelligence that moves around in a low profile. He physically moves around without drawing a lot of attention to himself. Regarding his personality, his moral compass does not always point North. Not a black hat versus a white hat; there is a lot of gray. Even though he sometimes does bad things he is still seen as a good guy.”
As with all of Gray Man books, the excitement, tension, and action are never ending. There is never a dull moment.