Another book in one day. Woohoo! I always consider it a good sign if you can read an entire book in a day. Wait...maybe that is just saying that I'm unemployed. Whatever! I consider it a good sign. The book in question is The Gray Man by Mark Greaney. At 456 pages it is not exactly a small book, but it's fast paced and entertaining which makes it that much easier. However, it is also nothing new.
The book follows the "Gray Man" otherwise known as Court Gentry. He is your typical, or not so typical, super spy/badass assassin. Think Jason Bourne on steroids. Former CIA he gets burned (like "Burn Notice" and Jason Bourne) and turns to a life of assassinations to pay the bills. however he only assassinates "bad" people. Right...like that would work. He is also considered number one in the world at what he does. The plot? He assassinates a dude, dude's brother wants him dead for it, company needs dude's brother for a muti-billion dollar contract, company uses their connections to find his handler, kidnap handlers family for leverage, send like 12 squads of elite badasses (including one solo North Korean assassin) from different countries after him, let the games begin. Other then the fact that the book is typical, which I will get to momentarily, there is also some code of honor being a "hunter." Think like some weird Samurai code.
How is it typical? Well, like most spy/assassin stories it has all of the exact same elements (minus the sex). Some highly trained dude in various martial arts and weapons is getting fucked over. Said dude kills everyone. Typical. A little not so typical is that he actually gets fucked up along the way (think Diehard). By fucked up I mean he falls down a mountain, gets shot, gets stabbed, walks on glass, etc. Shit, the guy gets a blood transfusion in a car on the way to go kill more bad guys. No, really. Greaney's writing, and character, reminds me a lot of Matthew Reilly's Shane Schofield/Scarecrow series. For those who don't know about that series Scarecrow is a Marine Recon guy who gets put in the most fucked up situations. He is badass though, and usually kills everyone. It's not just the character though. The way he writes, the scenarios, the talk of different weapons and nationalities, and the pace all remind me of Reilly. Especially how the characters end up managing to survive situations that no human being should possibly live through. Another comparison? In this book the bounty put on the Gray Man's head is 20 billion dollars. In Scarecrow by Matthew Reilly a group of assassins is hired to kill Scarecrow...for a bounty of 18.6 billion dollars. How one man could be worth the double digit billions is way beyond me. I kind of wonder if Greaney read that book and wanted to make his character sound a little more intimidating than Reilly's. Note: Scarecrow came out in 2003...The Gray Man came out this year. Another example? He prefers the same gun as James Bond, the Walther P99.
On the back cover to the book it says, "In researching The Gray Man he traveled to seven countries, and trained extensively alongside military and law enforcement personnel in the use of firearms, battlefield medicine, and close-range combative tactics." My only comment is that sounds like a large waste of time, and money. Most of the information he found in his research you can do online in a matter of hours. Trust me, I know. I did research for a short story I did once about an assassin. Who...like these guys, it totally awesome, survives insane situations, and manages to get shot at by a variety of different guys and girls with different guns. You can simply go online and look up any country, their special forces, what kind of training they do, and what kind of weapon they prefer. From there if you don't know a particular weapon all you have to do is look it up, see how it works, then go look for a video of someone shooting the gun to describe the recoil and what it sounds like. It might take you a little while, but you don't have to travel all over the fucking world. Wanna have a battle take place in Paris? Just Google Earth the motherfucker and you can find street names, see what the building look like, etc. Maybe I just know the poor mans research.
Anyway. Greaney is a good writer for this sort of thing. The book is a great book in this genre. It's a fast book so consider it excellent for an airplane ride or a road trip. I can't say he, or the book, really puts anything new into this style but what the hell, who really does anything "new" anymore?
By the way, you have no idea how many times I actually used the word "badass" in this review and had to go back and delete them. You have no idea. I also read that someone has bought the movie rights. So expect another Bourne Identity/Transporter/Crank/Hitman movie to come out eventually.