Mark Greaney is perhaps better known for his collaborative efforts with the late Tom Clancy (including the newly published COMMAND AUTHORITY) than for his solo work. He is a marvelous wordsmith, so much so that his Gray Man novels are worthy of your full attention. The latest of these, DEAD EYE, also happens to be Greaney’s best effort to date, worth sweeping aside whatever duties you have to steal several hours of your time and attention as it raises your pulse and blood pressure from first page to last.
"Make sure you’re sitting in a chair with a seat belt before reading DEAD EYE. The book takes off from the first paragraph before taking you on a series of practically non-stop, heart-in-your-mouth vignettes that span border and expend ordnance on a seemingly unlimited budget."
The Gray Man is Court Gentry, so-called for his ability to seamlessly blend into a crowd of two or more without attracting attention or raising a blip on the radar. Gentry had been a master assassin for the CIA when, for reasons unknown to himself, things went crossways with his former employer. As a result, the hunter has become the hunted, and the CIA --- among others --- has been focused on Gentry with a terminate-on-sight order. The instrumentality of this order is a secretive private enterprise that has existed for many decades. Known as Townsend Government Services, the organization has functioned as an official bounty hunting arm of the United States since the 19th century. It has never encountered a more elusive or deadly foe than Gentry.
It is therefore fascinating that DEAD EYE begins with Gentry making a covert but extremely daring entry and hit into the high-profile hidey hole of another of his former employers, a Russian mobster who double-crossed the Gray Man. The action attracts Townsend’s attention, and it quickly scrambles to take Gentry down in the aftermath of the carnage. It is almost successful, and would be but for the intercession of Russell Whitlock. Interestingly enough, Whitlock is a product of the very same Autonomous Asset Program that produced the killing machine that is Gentry. Whitlock, known as Dead Eye, is supposed to be working for Townsend, but at the last minute comes to Gentry’s aide. Gentry is naturally suspicious --- he is too well-trained and doggedly pursued to react otherwise --- but welcomes, with some caution, the assistance. Whitlock most definitely has his own agenda, and by the time it is fully revealed, Gentry may find himself in more danger and with more potential enemies than he ever thought would be possible.
Make sure you’re sitting in a chair with a seat belt before reading DEAD EYE. The book takes off from the first paragraph before taking you on a series of practically non-stop, heart-in-your-mouth vignettes that span border and expend ordnance on a seemingly unlimited budget. Greaney knows his territory, and not just geographically, either. He demonstrates an encyclopedic knowledge of hand-to-hand combat and munitions that lends a great degree of realism to his razor-sharp plotting --- from the urgent beginning to its end --- indicating that the next volume of this fine series may provide Gentry not only with the answers he seeks, but also with the respite he so desperately needs.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on December 13, 2013