3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.5 Stars - Gray is a Good Way to Describe It,
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This review is from: The Gray Man (A Gray Man Novel) (Paperback)
Anyone with the slightest exposure to the Spy-Thriller genre has met Court Gentry (aka The Gray Man) already. You know, the assassin with a conscience; aka the assassin who only kills bad guys; aka the assassin who is the very best at what he does. He is a walking, fighting, killing cliche that has reappeared throughout the genre. Did I mention that he has been betrayed? Of course he has.
So why pick up another one of these books? Why to see him fight his way through a field of 50 of the world's best assassins/military units on his way to save a family he once body-guarded that feature two adorable blonde twins. Don't buy it? Then throw in a CIA file that features not only his identity and history but those of many other covert agents once in the employ of the CIA which the villain will expose if he isn't stopped. Thankfully there is only one copy of these priceless files in the world so kill 50 or so killers, save the little girls, and burn the only file in the space of a couple of days and you are good to go.
The good thing about the ridiculous plot is that in order to fit it all in and arrive at an acceptable resolution, the action must be fast paced and totally fluffless. Mark Greaney does well in this respect. The first body falls within the first chapter and after that our hero is on the run non-stop. The pacing moves as fast and ruthlessly as its uber-assassin. I say ruthlessly because it does so at some expense. Like the characters in the world surrounding him, you will never know Court Gentry. He will be a Gray Man to you as well. You will be able to predict his motivations without understanding him. You will have the vaguest descriptions of him (38 y.o., 180 lbs, dark hair...that's it). You will learn nothing of his drive save that it exists and that it is noble. In other words, you will learn nothing.
Here is the main problem with The Gray Man. You buy the book knowing the ridiculous premise. You know you will have to suspend disbelief going in. But having dipped in this pool before you also know that it has been done well and that you have a better idea of the Jack Reachers and Jason Bournes of the world. You know that they feel more dimensional, more real, less Gray. So ultimately it is not the plot that disappoints, its the lack of character.
Shame too, because Mr. Greaney does have talent. Characters stand out in their two dimensions. Each has a distinct personality which shines through in his dialogue. There is real talent in portraying this diversity, but without a single standout its hard to see them as anything more than weapons in Greaney's arsenal. I would read another Gray Man book, but had the author made his main character into a true being and not a moving bullet, if I could understand him more even at the cost of 10-15 less assassins for him to kill, I would have made it my next purchase and had already been on my way through it.