Review of “Gunmetal Gray” by Mark Greaney

“Gunmetal Gray” was a very enjoyable read for me. It was the second book I have read in Mark Greaney’s “Gray Man” series. I actually liked “Agent in Place”, Greaney’s most recent Gray Man novel, a little bit more. “Gunmetal Gray” one was right up there, however.

The strength of this book is Greaney’s character, “The Gray Man”, a professional assassin that sometimes works for the C.I.A. and sometimes does free-lance work. What makes this character particularly interesting is his moral code.  Like Arnold Schwarzenegger in “True Lies” he only seems to kill bad people. He tries to do the right thing in a very murky world.  “The Gray Man” makes a very entertaining main character.

In “Gunmetal Gray”, The Gray Man is searching for a high-level computer hacker who was a member of China’s People’s Liberation Army and is on the run after defecting. Apparently this computer hacker is very talented, since it seems that every major intelligence agency in the world is after him as well. Throughout “Gunmetal Gray”, the Gray Man tangles with the People’s Liberation Army, Russian commandos, Chinese Triads, Thai gangsters, the Italian Mafia and perhaps some other miscellaneous villains I have forgotten. Sometimes the encounter includes several groups of bad guys simultaneously. The plot is fairly intricate without being overly complex. There are enough twists and turns throughout to keep a thriller connoisseur intellectually engaged.

Greaney has some interesting other characters in “Gunmetal Gray” as well. Of particular note is a female Russian commando that seems to be a Russian version of the Gray Man. The computer hacker himself is a fairly well-developed character as are an old English friend, and his own handler within the C.I.A.

The book is set  in Hong Kong and Thailand. I am fairly familiar with Hong Kong, and Greaney seems very much at home there. Some of the sites visited there include the Peak, Tsim Sha Tsui, the Peninsula Hotel, and the Chunking Mansions. I would like to have seen more depth in Hong Kong, but that is strictly a personal preference. A larger portion of the book is set in Thailand, and Greaney seems to capture that as well.  Since I have spent very little time in Thailand, I can’t vouch for his realism, but his descriptions seem realistic.

My favorite part of the book is its discussion of tactical operations. Greaney uses a technique of alternating points of view in short chapters. One chapter might be from the Gray Man’s point of view, and the next chapter might be from a Russian commando’s point of view. Greaney does a really good job with this technique, and anyone looking to emulate this technique should refer to his books. He also seems to know his way around weapons and tactics. The Gray man and his many enemies go through a wide array of weapons, and his usage of them seem very realistic to this non-technical reader.  His tactics are well-described, and perhaps overdone, but reading how the Gray Man can defeat 50 or more adversaries all by himself is very entertaining.

All in all, this was a very good read. It was heavy on action, has a great protagonist, an intricate plot, and interesting settings.

Gunmetal Gray was published in 2017. I obtained it from my local library after reading Greaney’s most recent novel “Agent in Place”. It was a good find. I also published a version of this review in Goodreads.

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