A Book Spy Review: ‘Back Blast’ by Mark Greaney

Back Blast Mark GreaneyMark Greaney is without a doubt one of the hottest names in the political thriller genre right now. This past December he released his latest novel in the Tom Clancy universe, Tom Clancy: Commander in Chiefa fantastic novel that addressed many of the geopolitical issues facing America today.

In Back Blast, Greaney returns to the franchise that launched his career as an author. This is the fifth novel in his Gray Man series, and the first installment since 2013’s Dead Eye.

The Gray Man, an ex-CIA operative, is a legend in the world of spies and contract killers. He only takes jobs that he first approves of, and never misses his target. He’s methodical, he’s careful, and he’s absolutely lethal. He’s also a man with a regular name, Court Gentry, though hardly anyone knows him by that name anymore.

Years ago, Gentry was burned. The CIA decided he’s no longer worth leaving alive, so they issued a “shoot on sight”order with his name on it. The aftermath of their decision, and how Gentry responds to finding out the Central Intelligence Agency has cut ties with him, is the plot for the fist novel in the series: The Gray Man.

Since then, Gentry has been living on the run and under the CIA’s radar. He works for himself, killing for a living. Finally, after all these years Gentry decided to go back to the United States, the absolute last place he wants to be, in an attempt to find out why he was burned in the first place and to straighten things out once and for all.

Gentry heads to Washington, but the CIA is tipped off about his return by the Israelis. The CIA has absolutely no intention of letting him do anything to help clear his name, and fully intends to exercise the standing SOS (shoot on sight) order that was previously issued – and is still standing.

To uncover the truth about his past, Gentry starts looking under rocks that haven’t been moved in quite some time. Underneath them is a dirty little secret that powerful people desperately want to keep buried.

In the end, Mark Greaney does a wonderful job answering the main question fans of the series have been wondering since the first novel: What the heck happened to get Gentry burned causing all of his friends, co-workers, and his country to turn against him?

If you enjoy spy novels, whether you’re a longtime fan or a newcomer to the series, you won’t be disappointed with this book. Back Blast rocks, and it is one of Greaney’s best books to date.

Why I loved it

Gentry’s return to Washington is the classic story of when the hunter becomes the hunted, as he must elude American law enforcement agencies while trying to uncover what really caused his falling out with the CIA. Gentry is searching for answers, while everyone else is searching for him. It’s a race to see who can find what they’re after first, and Greaney writes the heck out of it.

The Gray Man series features some of the best action sequences written in recent memory, as that’s proven to be Mark Greaney’s specialty. As good as Tom Clancy: Commander in Chief is, reaching #3 on the New York Times bestselling list, Greaney is at his best with these types of explosive stories featuring espionage, bullets and nonstop-action. He also weaves in enough twists and turns to keep the reader off balance and guessing until the very end.

Why you should read it

The timing of Back Blast is great for fans of the genre, as most of the top spy novelists are releasing their new books this summer. There will be plenty of thrillers and mysteries to chose from until then, but Greaney provides one of the very few pure spy-thrillers.

Back Blast should dominate the month of February and, along with Overwatch (the debut novel from Matthew Betley that is scheduled to be released on Match 1), will keep fans’ appetites in check as they await the summer months, which are jam-packed with new offerings from Joshua Hood, Brad Thor, Brad Taylor, Ben Coes, Daniel Silva and others.

If you enjoy the Jason Bourne series by Robert Ludlum, you’ll love the Gray Man series. There are many similarities between the characters and their pursuit of finding the truth about their pasts, with Greney’s books being slightly more violent in nature.

Book Details

Author: Mark Greaney

Pages: 528 pages (hardcover)

Publisher: Berkley

Release Date: February 16, 2016 (Pre-order now!)

 

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  • Greg

    Nice review! I have a minor correction: when THE GRAY MAN begins and Court Gentry is introduced for the first time he’s already been burned by his handler at the CIA and is doing a contract job in Syria. Things turn ugly and Gentry gets hounded by hit squads hired by a large Halliburton type company as he makes his way across Europe. CIA is after him too, but the primary threat is the hired hitmen.

    • You’re right… I was just trying to sum things up in quick fashion without giving too much away!