Agent in Place

Agent in Place

Court Gentry is back in action. This time he's working on behalf of a well-connected group of Syrian expats to secure the Syrian president's mistress so they can use her to bring down the president's regime. But the expats' plan goes awry when it's discovered the mistress has a baby--the Syrian president's only male heir--hidden away in a Damascus safe house.Court goes aft...

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Title:Agent in Place
Author:Mark Greaney
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Edition Language:English

Agent in Place Reviews

  • Dave

    Agent in Place is an action-packed thrill ride that includes terrorists, covert operations and all-out war. If you are looking for chick-lit, you best keep walking. This ain't it. This is an adrenaline-filled blast from beginning to end with almost no let up. The mere 500 plus pages of action go by real fast. Court (aka The Gray Man) is a bit of Jason Bourne tangling with counter-agents across Europe, trained to perfection. But, I think there's more of Mack Bolan, the Executioner, here, particul

    Agent in Place is an action-packed thrill ride that includes terrorists, covert operations and all-out war. If you are looking for chick-lit, you best keep walking. This ain't it. This is an adrenaline-filled blast from beginning to end with almost no let up. The mere 500 plus pages of action go by real fast. Court (aka The Gray Man) is a bit of Jason Bourne tangling with counter-agents across Europe, trained to perfection. But, I think there's more of Mack Bolan, the Executioner, here, particularly in how Court takes on any odds solo and is nearly invincible in any firefight. This may be the seventh book in the series, but I started here and wasn't lacking any background.

    It is always ambitious to place your story in the midst of constantly changing current events and that gamble pays off handsomely here, taking the reader on a journey into the very belly of the Syrian Civil War with all of the different factions and players including mercenaries, the Free Syrian Army, Isis, the Russians, and others too numerous to mention without glancing at the scorecard. Maybe Court takes on an impossible mission - but the writing makes it believable and the battle scenes in Syria are real good.

    Always a treat when a book is much better than expected. Thanks to Penguin Publishing for providing a copy for review.

  • The Real Book Spy

    Though Court ‘The Gray Man’ Gentry is back with the CIA in an official capacity, the highly-skilled assassin finds himself working for a group of Syrian expats in Mark Greaney’s (

    , 2016) latest action-packed novel,

    .

    The job is simple, or so he was told.

    Hired by a couple who represent a group of well-connected Syrians hellbent on toppling the regime of Ahmed al-Azzam, President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Court Gentry

    Though Court ‘The Gray Man’ Gentry is back with the CIA in an official capacity, the highly-skilled assassin finds himself working for a group of Syrian expats in Mark Greaney’s (

    , 2016) latest action-packed novel,

    .

    The job is simple, or so he was told.

    Hired by a couple who represent a group of well-connected Syrians hellbent on toppling the regime of Ahmed al-Azzam, President of the Syrian Arab Republic, Court Gentry is given the information of a private apartment in Paris where Bianca Medina, the president’s twenty-six-year-old secret mistress, is currently staying.

    The plan is to have Court kidnap Bianca, a clear power-move by the Syrian expats (who call themselves the Free Syrian Army) designed to destabilize Ahmed al-Azzam’s government. After scouting his target, Court makes his move in the dark of the night, only to encounter a large number of ISIS militants who also converge on Bianca’s apartment, guns a-blazin’.

    Narrowly escaping with the package in hand, Court delivers the mistress to Tarek and Rima Halaby. The couple, both of whom are doctors, are Gentry’s contacts for the job. Convinced they chose not to tell him about the potential threat of running into ISIS jihadists, Court instructs the Halabys to wire the rest of his fee within a day or suffer the deadly consequences. Then he disappears, again, back into the night.

    Things take a complicated turn when Bianca refuses to help the Free Syrian Army, revealing that she recently gave birth to a son who, against her wishes, is still inside Syria — which has been reduced to a chaotic war zone. For the mistress to comply, she demands the Halabys find a way to have her son rescued and brought to her. It’s an impossible task, no doubt, and the Halabys know just the person for the job.

    After convincing Court to work with them one last time, mostly to help Bianca because he sympathizes with her and the situation she’s in, Gentry heads to Syria for the most dangerous assignment in his storied career.

    Pretty much from the moment Court’s boots touch down in the region, nothing goes according to plan. Shady back dealings and questionable alliances are slowly brought to light, providing plenty of suspense as the story plays out. As new threats arise, Court’s mission parameters change. To finish the job and get back home alive, the Gray Man will need to find a way to be every bit of the legend he’s become over the course of six previous books, and then some.

    With so many of the genre’s other top characters already fifteen books or more into their respective runs, Court Gentry (along with Brad Taylor’s Pike Logan, Ben Coes’ Dewey Andreas, and Gregg Hurwitz’s Evan Smoak) represents the future of the thriller genre. Author Mark Greaney once again develops his character brilliantly as he continues to slowly break away from the pack as the apparent heir to the throne currently held by Brad Thor and Daniel Silva.

    Mark Greaney continues his dominant run with

    , the best Gray Man thriller yet and one of the top must-read thrillers of 2018.

    Author: Mark Greaney

    Series: Gray Man #7

    Pages: 528 (Hardcover)

    ISBN: 0451488903

    Publisher: Berkley

    Release Date: February 20, 2018

    Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10

    Order Now!

    Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.

  • Chris  C - A Midlife Wife

    Wow so much action and intense situations! 4.5 Stars - discounted due to excessive length

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I think what I love the most about spy thrillers is the continuous action. There is never a dull moment. Never a time where you say to yourself, “Is it over yet?”

    This book kicks off with an amazing story and an intricate plot that leaves you breathless. The author keeps ramping up the suspense and the twists to the story every time you turn the page.

    From Europe to Syria and p

    Wow so much action and intense situations! 4.5 Stars - discounted due to excessive length

    ~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~

    I think what I love the most about spy thrillers is the continuous action. There is never a dull moment. Never a time where you say to yourself, “Is it over yet?”

    This book kicks off with an amazing story and an intricate plot that leaves you breathless. The author keeps ramping up the suspense and the twists to the story every time you turn the page.

    From Europe to Syria and points in-between, many players come into this thrilling read. I thought I would have a hard time keeping track of everyone, but the amazing talents of this author weaves a story so captivating and detailed that you think you are right there with the characters each step of the way. In fact, the story is so believable that you have to wonder if this story is fiction or yanked from the pages of current events.

    There is a reason the Gray Man is a highly sought after contract professional killer. He is a brilliant, top notch operative that is simply a fabulously developed character. Never a dull moment, you will always be guessing about what he will do next.

    In fact, never mind that last statement. There is not enough time to think about what he will be doing. You just have to read as fast as possible. This book is huge so make sure to plan your reading!

    Mark Greaney has made an impact with this series and Agent in Place. Imaginative and so very knowledgeable in the game of espionage, you will be come addicted to his writing, just like me!

    * copy received for review consideration

    full review -

  • Pierre Tassé

    Excellent book. Great story and so relevant for today's world politics. Of course the subterfuge and covertness adds intrigue. I was sad to read the end....not for any other reason than the book was enjoyable. You do not need to read the first 6 to enjoy this one...

  • Sean Peters

    Thank you to Net Galley, The publishers and to Mark Greaney for an honest review, which is easy as I love these books.

    Mark Greaney is on my list of favourite authors and most of these are action thriller authors, as well as gripping police thriller authors.

    In all honesty I have not read all "Gray Man Books", but read a few and love this character. I believe the more you read in a series, the more you enjoy the character as you understand his/her personality.

    Court Gentry is back in action. The Is

    Thank you to Net Galley, The publishers and to Mark Greaney for an honest review, which is easy as I love these books.

    Mark Greaney is on my list of favourite authors and most of these are action thriller authors, as well as gripping police thriller authors.

    In all honesty I have not read all "Gray Man Books", but read a few and love this character. I believe the more you read in a series, the more you enjoy the character as you understand his/her personality.

    Court Gentry is back in action. The Islamic State group is about to execute Courtland Gentry—the Gray Man—and leave his body floating with others in a bloody lake!!

    One week earlier.... Gentry is ex-CIA, now an assassin for hire. He meets in Paris with Dr. Tarek Halaby, head of the Free Syria Exile Union, or what’s left of it.

    So he is working on behalf of a connected group of Syrian expats to secure the Syrian president's mistress so they can use her to bring down the president's regime. But the expats' plan goes wrong when it's discovered the mistress has a baby--the Syrian president's only male heir--hidden away in a Damascus safe house.

    Court goes after the baby, a decision that comes at the price of the mistress's life. The expat organisation deems the boy now useless to their cause and refuses to protect him against the Syrian first lady and the notorious Swiss assassin in her employ, a rather nasty character,with no support on the way, Court realise's he'll have to take down the Syrian president himself if he and the boy and the nanny are going to make it out alive...

    Somehow, Greaney cranks out yet another great thriller. That’s a lot of action for the Gray Man and plenty of thrilling suspense, tension, great selection of characters.

    Yes lots of pages, but lots and lots of story, action and locations, and of course lots of loose ends...

    A clear four star, nearly a five ! Highly recommended.

  • Glen

    The Gray Man is back with the CIA, and up to his old tricks of spreading mayhem. This time he's in the Middle East, where things are completely falling apart. He gets in way over his head, but his training and sheer force of will enable him to keep performing his mission.

    Best book in the series yet!

  • Jean

    This is the seventh book in the Gray Man Series. Court Gentry is now a freelance mercenary. Gentry has been hired to kidnap the mistress of the Syrian president and then rescue her infant son. But quickly everything falls apart.

    The book is well written and plotted. The pace is very fast with constant action. This a series that has each book capable of being a stand-alone book. It is obvious Greaney does a lot of research to make his books accurate politically, weaponry, spy craft and also the ge

    This is the seventh book in the Gray Man Series. Court Gentry is now a freelance mercenary. Gentry has been hired to kidnap the mistress of the Syrian president and then rescue her infant son. But quickly everything falls apart.

    The book is well written and plotted. The pace is very fast with constant action. This a series that has each book capable of being a stand-alone book. It is obvious Greaney does a lot of research to make his books accurate politically, weaponry, spy craft and also the geography. The characters are interesting and realistic. I am always amazed at Greaney’s ability to write such intricate plots. He is a master storyteller.

    I read this as an audiobook downloaded from Audible. This book is longer than the majority of books in this series at 512 pages or almost sixteen and a half hours. Jay Snyder does a fantastic job narrating this series. Snyder is a classically trained actor, voice-over artist and audiobook narrator. I love to listen to his voice. He is a smooth narrator.

  • Samuel

    THE SYRIAN SHOT:

    “Why should we not boycott the Soviet Union and its supporters inside the country? If we do so, we can force them to review their stand. Either they give us what we want and what is necessary, or they will lose our friendship.” – Hafez Al – Assad.

    “Death a thousand times to the hired Muslim Brothers, Death a thousand times to the Muslim Brothers, the criminal Brothers, the corrupt Brothers.” – Hafez Al – Assad.

    “They are not my forces, they are military forces that belong to the

    THE SYRIAN SHOT:

    “Why should we not boycott the Soviet Union and its supporters inside the country? If we do so, we can force them to review their stand. Either they give us what we want and what is necessary, or they will lose our friendship.” – Hafez Al – Assad.

    “Death a thousand times to the hired Muslim Brothers, Death a thousand times to the Muslim Brothers, the criminal Brothers, the corrupt Brothers.” – Hafez Al – Assad.

    “They are not my forces, they are military forces that belong to the government.… I don't own them. I am president, I don't own the country, so they are not my forces.” – Bashir Al – Assad.

    “I'm not a puppet. I wasn't made by the west to go to the west or any other country. I'm Syrian. I'm made in Syria. I have to live in Syria and die in Syria.”- Bashir Al – Assad.

    A famous Pakistani Journalist once mused on the House of Al – Assad that ruled Syria that the heads of the family could be considered “The Levanters”. Given to him by Bhutto, the Pakistani Prime Minister, this analogy was a reference to one of Eric Ambler’s final novels about an English expat who lived in Damascus for so long that his identity had lost its moorings. The Levanter, in Bhutto’s telling, had no beliefs or ideals he treasured. No loyalties to anyone or anything, he could be your friend at the start of the day and stab you in the back as night fell. Survival was his reason for being and profiting from continued survival was the only thing the levanter cared about above all else.

    Hafez Al – Assad was the original Levanter. Originally an Arab Nationalist, over time whatever ideals he once held were eroded by simple pragmatism and ensuring the continued prosperity and survival of the Al – Assad clan. Happily killing fellow Muslims (albeit Sunnis who hated his Alawite guts) in the Hama Massacre of the 1980s, his son, Bashir has inherited his father’s mantle as the ultimate opportunistic survivor. Making friends with the Russians, the Iranians and even several Sunni militias that have thrown their lot in with the regime, while not truly submitting to their will, he has thrown everything but the kitchen sink into keeping the House of Al – Assad standing as the rest of Syria goes down in flames.

    It is the bloody work of the current Levanter which is the focus of the seventh Courtland Gentry novel “Agent in Place.” In fact, the Levanter is the target of the titular Agent in Place, The Gray Man. Created by Mark Greaney the hottest new star in American spy fiction, the books centre around Courtland Gentry a former CIA assassin who was part of a special program that trained deniable one-man armies to crush the enemies of the American State with impunity. Framed for crimes he did not commit, Gentry eventually got his ticket home and settled outstanding accounts with the guilty party. In this book, we find him taking part time employment, a job of the kind he used to do when he was a fugitive from American justice. As usual with Gentry, the job becomes so complicated up to the point where he’s running for his life through an active warzone at risk from the worst humanity has to offer. Now to the review. What difference does it make when you kill one bad man and save one good boy?

    The novel begins with an excellent textbook use of in media res. Gentry is in the biggest jam of his life, watching Daesh Islamofacists take a bit off the top with a blade at the edge of a nice lake that is being filled with corpses. Gentry is hog tied alongside a Syrian ally of his watching heads literally roll. The Gray Man is then dragged for his own photo op and we’re left wondering how he will survive as we begin the story proper a few months previously. In one of the biggest graveyards in Paris, Gentry attends a meeting with an elderly Syrian Doctor. The man is an exile, a revolutionary, albeit one who has much to be modest about. Running an NGO that provides humanitarian aid to Syrian refugees the doctor’s organization has decided to strike a great blow for the Syrian people against the regime that seems to have triumphed utterly against its citizens whose will it is on the verge of breaking. Knowing that they themselves do not have the experience to strike such a blow, a deal is cut with officials of the French government who proceed to hire a professional private consultant in such matters.

    That consultant is the Gray Man who after his meeting methodically prepares for a night on the town. Only this case, a night on the town with the Gray Man involves a kidnapping. Breaking into one of the nicest rental apartments in Paris after dinner at a fashion show, Gentry makes off with a beautiful woman, blazing away with a nine – banger flash grenade and his now trademark silenced Glock 19 as the woman’s security detail comes under attack from ISIS terrorists. Bringing her back to his clients they confirm that the lady is the mistress of the Syrian President. She refuses to fully cooperate with clients, revealing that she has her baby son in Syria and will only spill her guts on her lover’s dirty secrets if she gets her boy back. Gentry is lured back by a simple withholding of fee and after initially trying to cut and run, decides to accept this Olympian undertaking, walking into hell on earth where life has lost its value and no expense will be spared to end his if he’s rumbled. Meanwhile as Courtland prepares for his journey, a mysterious Swiss gun for hire kits up and begins a journey of his own to Paris. Working for the Syrian government, he has his own agenda and is willing to shoot whomever gets in his way to achieve it. From France, to Germany to the Badlands of the Levant, The Gray Man finds himself trying to channel that supernatural legend he had cultivated. But as he finds himself close to drowning in death, only one question remains. When war is just about won, what difference can one man possibly make?

    In terms of plot, “Agent in Place,” is a very intense story and the one possessing the grandest scope in the whole series to date. Like the 6th book, Gunmetal Gray, which focused on whether the all-American idealism of Gentry has any place in a profession where he’s surrounded by utter bastards and black and white morality is simply laughable, book 8, behind the gunfire, bombs and foul-mouthed internal musings is a pretty deep story. It’s a tale about survivors and what they are willing to do and destroy to live day by day. Whether it be evil ones like the Syrian President, the Levanter who has resorted to whoring himself and his country out to foreign influences and blowing Syria apart building by building, or small ones like the Swiss consultant who ruins the lives of several people in the quest to save himself from the proverbial sinking ship, the book, with all its twists and turns also explores some very complex themes that puts it a cut above many of its fellow NYT fiction bestsellers in that regard. Greaney explores the limits of humanity’s desire for survival and how it can make ordinary humans do extraordinary and horrifying things in equal measure.

    Action and setting? Due to personal bias, I preferred the setting of the previous book, but in the action stakes, Greaney blows the excellent Gunmetal Gray out of the water. From the open chapter’s gun battles through a real life Paris Apartment complex, to an ambush on a Damascus highway, an infiltration of one of the most heavily guarded love nests on earth worthy of the Japanese ninjas of old, and even a highly realistic yet blistering car chase through central Damascus, readers will have the time of their lives watching Gentry go up against the odds and only until the end, keep beating them without getting a single scratch. The backdrops on which all this takes place are fully realized as well. While it is increasingly difficult to make Middle Eastern settings interesting with the weariness of the War on Terror, it is clear the author did his homework on war – torn Syria. From all the little details like a trendy real-life bar where Gentry gets into a fun scrap, to the Syrian Presidential Palace, and its monstrous geometric designs, “Agent in Place”, does the old school novelist trick of taking us to places readers will never see or experience. In this case, that trick carries some emotional weight, as like the Mediterranean Levanter Wind, some of the locations in the story are being blown away, like dust or ashes in a breeze.

    Research? Top notch as usual. Greaney’s original strength as a writer was the level of real-world detail he brought into the narrative and “Agent in Place,” is a masterclass in putting the fact in fiction, the right way. From the combat tactics and variables, such as Gentry’s avoidance of Gucci, modern hardware in favour of simple, practical weapons like the silenced Glock 19, a bench - made knife and a bog standard AK47, to pursuit driving tactics that one actually needs to apply in a real car chase rather than rely on James Bond movies, we even get a highlight in the form of long range sniping and how heavy calibre bullets actually behave when fired from across a whole town. Greaney also gives us a look at the contemporary underworld of Europe and how the banking sector of a major European Power once again has been able to make a tidy sum from the bloodshed of the Syrian Civil War, like how their forefathers once did in WW2. International crime, espionage and terror has gotten even more convoluted and crazy since the last century and the world of the Gray Man accurately reflects such changes.

    Finally, the author gives us a crash course on the Syrian Civil War and shows us some things that haven’t been reported in the news…. namely how the Levanter has managed to blow through his country like a tornado. From the Sunni militias who decided to throw their lot in with their Alawite Boss rather than skin him alive for the delight of the rebel forces, to a special ordinance that created instant de – facto war lords who divided and conquered the country back for the house of Assad, Agent In Place shows the real life costs of the Levanter’s opportunism and betrayals and how they totally destroyed Syria, one of the oldest nations on earth.

    Characters? Quite a few standouts this time around but for brevity’s sake, I shall focus on four. First, Courtland Gentry. Gentry in this story has an interesting character arc of sorts, one that is self-serving but noble in a strange way. After book 7 where he got rudely reacquainted with the dubious nature of the work he had once done as a government employee, in this story we start with him trying to find a job that will boot his spirits and reaffirm his idealism, a morally righteous mission that will be achieved for his own damn satisfaction, rather than that of his new handler in Langley whom he grew to hate after their first run together. He gets more than he bargained for, finding himself agreeing to an ultimate high-risk proposition which would kill any ordinary soldier or intelligence officer after a week.

    But then again, Gentry is not an ordinary soldier, nor is he an intelligence officer. The Gray Man is on outstanding form in this story, at the peak of his powers in contrast to books 1 – 6 where he was barely making it out alive. For much of the story, he is able to outfox his pursuers and improvise far more smoothly when things start to go wrong as they always do with Gentry’s bad luck. It is only near the end where he’s tripped up, not by his own moral goodness getting in the way, but by simple bad luck that not even the best plan could see coming. But of course, Gentry is much too badass to be killed by simple bad luck. The climactic scene where the answer to the in-media res prologue is given will make you cheer at its cathartic payoff where the bodies hit the floor even when Courtland doesn’t have a gun.

    Next, we have Sebastian Drexler. Drexler is probably my favourite character in the book, as he is a modern take on the 1980s Eurotrash bad guy. Of all the people in this story, he could be considered the true Levanter of “Agent In Place”, even more so than the actual Levanter that Gentry is hunting down. A Swiss Spy, born in the French side of the small, but influential nation, Drexler decided to relive the best traditions of his people. He became a mercenary, a boutique gun for hire amongst Europe’s more snobbish Corporate tycoons and later the not so snobbish dictators of the Third World. Forced into exile in Syria, Drexler starts the story with his career and life on the line. With Gentry ruining one of his plans, Drexler realizes that his current client is going to kill him if there is one more failure and so begins to make his exit plans, on the corpses of several innocent civilians and a baby boy if need be.

    Well spoken, charming and dressed in Daniel Craig’s Tom Ford suits, Drexler’s corporate fixer act, is but a façade. Embodying the evils of opportunism far more than even his clients, while affable for the most part, our Swiss mercenary is a competent, supremely despicable villain. There are few lines left for him to cross and in the race to save himself from a ghastly fate, he’s willing to cross a few more even if innocent people die badly in the process. While overconfident, he is smart enough to apply the basic asset cultivation techniques to manipulate everyone around him and knows how to handle a gun in a fight. We end the story with this corporate shark racing away, and by the final chapter, you will want Courtland to hunt him again once more to put a hollow point through the man’s sharkskin suit jacket.

    Finally, we have Yasmin. Yasmin is the Nanny of the boy Gentry is trying to recover. She may be a secondary character but is a critical component to Gentry’s plan. Despite being a civilian with no combat training, having worked for very violent men, she shows surprising ice-cold nerves and common sense when the strange American barges into her life and makes off with her and her charge in a Hyundai Sonata across Damascus. Avoiding all of the aggravating hysterical woman tropes, Yasmin is a great secondary character, and one who has a surprising and unexpected past, being witness to one of the Levanter’s great betrayals of a dear friend.

    Constructive criticism? There was a major editing error. Drexler in the story is given a gun. Officially a Beretta 92 Inox, it in fact has the specs of the Taurus PT 92, specifically the latter’s 17 round magazine which the original 92 models did not possess.

    Survival. That is the whole reason for being when it comes down to it. Survival does have its darker side however, making one capable of doing monstrous and horrifying things out of petty, sheer opportunism. Such is the lot of the Levanter in Damascus whose opportunism has kept him alive and has allowed him to triumph in the Syrian Civil War but has also caused the biggest refugee crisis since the WW2 displacement of millions of Europeans. But in Agent in Place however, sometimes opportunism is not enough. Sometimes, honouring one’s commitments even in the face of massive odds like Courtland Gentry does is how one can truly survive and live to die another day.

    With its well written story, excellent intense violence, intriguing real-world details and a cast of formidable characters that you will love and loathe, “Agent in Place” is quite possibly Mark Greaney’s best written book to date, one which has won him his second, well deserved place on the NYT bestseller list. As we see the Agent in Place head off to jolly old England for his next mission, the future for the lone survivor, Courtland Gentry, doesn’t like gray and grim, but rather very bright.

  • Brett Thomasson

    In his second outing as a now un-disavowed asset for the CIA, Court Gentry, "the Gray Man," becomes involved in a plot to aid Syrian expatriates trying to topple their dangerous dictator. He helps kidnap the dictator's mistress when she is in France and get her to the rebels, but discovers she will help no one unless she is reunited with her infant son. The baby has been kept secret by both the mistress and the dictator (who, by the way, is

    named Bashar al-Assad), but without him she will no

    In his second outing as a now un-disavowed asset for the CIA, Court Gentry, "the Gray Man," becomes involved in a plot to aid Syrian expatriates trying to topple their dangerous dictator. He helps kidnap the dictator's mistress when she is in France and get her to the rebels, but discovers she will help no one unless she is reunited with her infant son. The baby has been kept secret by both the mistress and the dictator (who, by the way, is

    named Bashar al-Assad), but without him she will not cooperate, no matter what the people holding her try to do.

    So Court, against his better judgment but feeling a responsibility to help people against the murderous regime ruining Syria, agrees to try to get in and sneak the baby and his nanny out of the country in Mark Greaney's 2018 Gray Man novel,

    .

    Greaney built the Gray Man series with a Court who was always on the run, having been targeted by elements within his old agency who believed he could threaten their positions with his knowledge. But he brought Court back into the fold in 2016's

    , working for the CIA again but also allowed to take on some of his own outside projects. The kidnapping of Bianca Medina is one of those, but Court finds that the people he's dealing with are amateurs blundering around in a world that is far too dangerous for them. That's one of the reasons he decides to help them by rescuing the baby.

    Unfortunately,

    is significantly weaker than earlier Gray Man novels. It's easily twice as long as it needs to be. Court's Syrian travelogue doesn't have nearly enough importance for the space it's given, and it's founded on a clunky premise that suggests not enough time taken to make it work. Scenes set in France and later Greece that describe what's happening with Bianca while Court is in Syria are also explored in much more detail than they need to be. Greaney opens the novel with a cliffhanger scene and switches to a "One week earlier" flashback for the meat of the story that makes you wonder if he also was unsure the main plotline would actually hook a reader.

    The Gray Man is his habitual never-say-die, kicking-ass-and-taking-names self, usually a few steps ahead of his opponents and always much tougher. And it's interesting to see him so purely motivated by his knight-errancy, but the indifferent execution of

    saps that interest quickly over the course of a novel that needs both shortening and focusing.

    Original available

    .

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