There is twice the action at hand for fans of Mark Greaney’s Gray Man as the covert operative chases down a ghost from his past in the new thriller Sierra Six. With a much-anticipated Netflix movie adaptation starring Ryan Gosling and Chris Evans slated to drop this year, the origin tale becomes especially relevant to both new fans and longtime fans alike.
The eleventh book to feature Court Gentry, aka the Gray Man, Sierra Six provides readers a never-before-seen look at his formative years with the CIA as part of the six-member special ops Golf Sierra team. Initially trained as a lone assassin/spook, joining a team brings its own array of challenges for Gentry, not the least of which is working with others and making certain his own actions don’t result in injuries or death to his teammates.
“He’d been trained for one thing above all else, and that was moving low-profile through the ether of life. He watched people, he learned from them. He didn’t interact with them.” Greaney writes.
After several practice drills in which everything seemingly goes wrong, only Gentry’s own moral code keeps him from giving up.
“Court’s head hung low,” Greaney recounts. “Part of him wanted to throw in the towel, but he was telling the truth when he said he didn’t quit. He had to convince Sierra One to give him one more try.”
Ready or not, the team is thrust into a mission to shadow a new terrorist group in Afghanistan known as the Kashmiri Resistance Front. But when the group storms a facility and steals a supply of ammonium nitrate — “enough to blow up half of downtown Islamabad” — Gentry and team must attempt to halt a terrorist attack on a retail center in Mumbai, only to fail miserably, resulting in more than 60 civilian deaths.
Flash forward 12 years when Gentry, now an independent freelance mercenary for hire, is working with reconnaissance specialist Priyanka Bandari to spy on the Turkish Embassy in Algiers. The mission goes awry, and Bandari is taken captive. During a desperate rescue mission, Gentry observes a familiar face, the man responsible for the attack 12 years before, Murad Khan, who was presumed killed.
“Court was amazed that he had recognized the face so quickly. It was as if the past twelve years of his life had never even happened,” Greaney writes. “He knew the man. … This was the man responsible for it all, the mastermind, here in the flesh.”
Gentry reaches out to his old team leader, Zack Hightower, and begins a quest to track down Khan and stop his latest terrorist plan from coming to fruition.
Greaney spends just enough time in each time period to bring events to an explosive peak, then zips into the other time period, weaving the storylines into a rollercoaster of action and sweeping adventure. By tying both storylines together with a common enemy, Greaney elevates the urgency and suspense twofold. Along with his trademark high-octane action scenes, Greaney surprises readers by showing Gentry at his most vulnerable:
Observing the dead, he realized he’d never seen carnage like this in his life. He’d killed — he was still a teenager the first time he took a life — but he’d never seen innocents targeted until earlier that day, and it simultaneously sickened, frightened, and angered him to his core.
Greaney previously authored seven Tom Clancy novels and is regarded as one of the best military thriller writers based on his extensive firsthand military and firearms training. The action scenes virtually explode on the page resulting in an adrenaline-packed experience for readers.
G. Robert Frazier is a former Middle Tennessee newspaper reporter and editor now working as a book reviewer and screenwriter. He has been a finalist in the Austin Film Festival’s screenwriting competition and three-time semifinalist in the Nashville Film Festival screenplay contest. He lives in La Vergne where he serves on the Library Board.
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