I knew Mark Greaney as the writer that is continuing the story of Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series but had never taken the opportunity to read Greaney’s own work. I decided to change that with his upcoming novel, “Back Blast,” and was well rewarded.
The Gray Man was not always an international fugitive who lived his life on the run. In fact, he used to be Court Gentry, one of the CIA’s top agents, until the day that the CIA turned against him and he began his new life as the Gray Man. The time for running has come to an end, however, and the Gray Man has returned home to find answers as to why the CIA had put a kill order out on him.
As Court begins to dig into the mystery of why the agency turns against him, he could never have guessed as just how deep into a maze of deceit and corruption those answers would lead. Even as Court tries to work his way to the answer without resorting to violence, the people hunting him have no such aversions to violence and murder is their primary way of keeping the world from learning their secret. Court has been on the run for years but never this close to home and never so close to being free from ever having to run again. All he has to do is live long enough uncover the secret that his pursuers are trying conceal and expose their corruption to the world.
While I enjoy thrillers, it is not often that I find one that goes beyond being simply an entertaining diversion to being just a very good book. Tom Clancy was one of the few who could write a military-themed thriller that stood out above the pack and it is fitting that Mark Greaney is the writer that is continuing Clancy’s vision as “Back Blast” is probably the best military (or at least intelligence) related thriller that I have read since Clancy’s books. Not only was the book entertaining but I completely lost myself in the narrative and for long stretches of time and the novel, which is by no means a short novel, just flew by. Now, make no mistake, this book is no “War and Peace.” What it is, however, is a thriller of the highest form and a great way to pass several hours immersed in a world of action and adventure.
It is true that “Back Blast” could have used a bit more character development (although I know that this is a part of a larger series and so some of that may have come before that) and that the characters remain a little shallow outside of a couple main characters who at times seem too good to be realistic. There are also some points in the plot that were just a little too cliché for my taste but Greaney keeps the story sprinting along so that these blemishes are minor and quickly forgotten. The simple fact of the matter is that I just flat-out enjoyed reading this novel and think it is one of the most fun novels that I had read this year. “Back Blast” is pure adrenaline and action and that is good enough for me. Forget the Hollywood blockbusters if you are looking for action and pick up this book instead. It is sure to have your pulse pounding as your heart and mind race toward the finish.
I would like to thank Berkley and NetGalley for this advance review copy. “Back Blast” is scheduled to be released in February.