Thursday, February 18, 2010

"The Gray Man"

Mark Greaney has a degree in International Relations and Political Science and is pursuing his Masters in Intelligence Studies with a concentration in Criminal Intelligence. He's reputed to speak good Spanish and bad German.

He applied the Page 69 Test to The Gray Man, his debut novel, and reported the following:
As it turns out, Page 69 is a pivot point in The Gray Man, a novel about a private assassin who battles third world hit squads as he races across Europe to rescue a kidnapped family.

Court Gentry is the Gray Man. A former operator in the CIA’s Special Activities Division, he now plies his trade as an ‘ethical’ killer for hire. Court works for Sir Donald Fitzroy, ex MI-5 chief and the handler of a stable of assassins.

The novel opens just as a Gray Man hit in Syria goes bad. Soon, Lloyd, an attorney for LaurentGroup, a corrupt Paris-based multinational corporation, pays a call on Sir Donald. The brother of Gentry’s latest victim has given Lloyd’s firm less than a week to find and terminate his brother’s killer, holding a lucrative Nigerian natural gas concession as incentive. Lloyd worked with Gentry in the CIA and knows what a tough customer he’s up against, and by page 69, when his first try to kill the wily hit man fails, he solicits Fitzroy’s help in tracking down the Gray Man-
“I need to know where Gentry is now, where he’s going, what he normally does when he goes into hiding.”

“When he goes into hiding, he simply vanishes. You can kiss your natural gas good-bye. The Gray Man will not turn up on anyone’s radar again for months.”

“Unacceptable. I need you to give me something about Gentry that I don’t already know. When he worked for us, he was a machine. No friends, no family that he gave a damn about. No lover stuck away for those long nights after a job. His SAD file is the most boring read imaginable. No vices, no weakness. He’s older now; surely he’s made associates of a personal nature, developed tendencies that will help us figure out his next step. I’m sure you can tell me something, no matter how trivial, that I can use to flush him out.”

Fitzroy smiled a little. He sensed the desperation in his young adversary.
When Fitzroy refuses lucrative security contracts in exchange for his assistance in the extermination of his employee, Lloyd removes the carrot and brandishes the stick. He has the venerable British spymaster’s son and grandchildren kidnapped in the Normandy region of France. Fitzroy then becomes complicit in the scheme to kill Court Gentry. Court has a soft spot for Fitzroy’s twin eight-year-old granddaughters, and he sets off to rescue them. Along the way he must run a gauntlet of hunter-killer teams hired by Lloyd, just to make it to the well-defended chateau that is his destination.

Page 69 is the moment when the stakes rise, Gentry’s one friend and confident becomes actively involved in his destruction, and the die is cast for the mayhem to come. Lloyd uses LaurentGroup’s vast security apparatus to hire 12 teams of killers from the intelligence arms of mostly third world nations. Libyans, Venezuelans, Indonesians, South Africans, Kazaks, and more; all race to Europe to take up positions along the Gray Man’s route. Court tries to make his way to his weapons cache, to a document forger, to his old CIA instructor, all to find help in his battle against the vast array of enemies, as the clock ticks down. Tired, wounded, and alone, the Gray Man must soldier on to the chateau, as the twins’ lives hang in the balance.
Read an excerpt from The Gray Man, and learn more about the book and author at Mark Greaney's website and blog.

Check out the complete list of books in the Page 69 Test Series.

--Marshal Zeringue