I picked up "The Gray Man" 3 years ago on a whim. I read the whole thing in one day without being able to put it down. I consider Court Gentry the perfect character of this genre, a more realistic and much faster-paced version of Jason Bourne, and a younger, somewhat more menacing, and in some ways, more cerebral version of Gabriel Allon. Gentry is everything you would expect from the world's foremost assassin - highly trained, with a heart of a lion and the ability to survive in just about any environment and under any conditions. Court Gentry is no James Bond, but the reader is left with the unmistakable impression that Gentry could waste Bond and ten others like him before they'd even have the chance to unbutton their fancy suits and order a cocktail.
In Dead Eye (the 4th installment of "The Gray Man" series), Court Gentry is on the run, and the CIA, the Russian mob, and just about every law enforcement agency on the planet wants him dead. The CIA engages a private corporation, Townsend Government Services, to send hunter-killer teams to take out the Gray Man once and for all. Russell Whitlock, code-name Dead Eye is part of one of the teams sent out to terminate Gentry. But suddenly, Dead Eye saves gentry from almost certain death, in a show of trust. Is he a friend or foe? Is there a bigger game at play, with higher stakes and geopolitical implications? This is only the beginning of a great story, with head-snapping twists and surprises right up to the very end.
After reading the first 3 books, and coming off the adrenaline high provided by "Ballistic", I knew the next book would have to be spectacular. It absolutely is. Mark Greaney delivers in a big way with "Dead Eye". The intensity of the action and the pace hits hard and fast from the beginning, and continues throughout the book. The first seven chapters by themselves are enough to replace a pot of coffee and several Red Bullls :). Do not plan to read this book at night. I know a lot of reviews start this way - this particular one should be heeded wisely. The action does not stop, it just accelerates at full throttle and hits you right in the chest like a smoldering bullet with a potent mix of fury and adrenaline until the final page.
One of my favorite things about "Dead Eye" was the continued introduction of new characters. Most authors recycle heavily, but this is not the case with "The Gray Man" series. Indeed, friends and relatives have commented on how easy it is to read the books out of order, due to the fact that the author has managed to create a phenomenal and very consistent main character, with an ever expanding supporting cast of friends and enemies. In Dead Eye, for instance, we are introduced to a new hunter-killer squad contracted by the CIA to terminate Court, as well as the Mossad, led by a determined agent who won't be deterred by the CIA's agenda. This is really the magic of the Gray Man series - there is very little recycled material, and every book stands on it's own.
With Dead Eye, the character, the author hit an absolute bulls-eye. A mirror image of Gentry, in many ways, Russell Whitlock takes the action right to Court Gentry, along with some old foes (or maybe friends?), as well as some new ones. You want to hate him very quickly, and you do, but he doesn't keep you from truly enjoying the book, rather, he adds to the flavor as one of the main antagonists. Strangely enough, as I finished the book, my feelings regarding Russell Whitlock (Dead Eye) change a bit, and I was left in a strange state of melancholic suspense about the character.
I have read enough books to be able to gauge when authors really put "research muscle" behind their books, and when they just kind of dial it in. Something I truly enjoy about Mark Greaney's books is their level of authenticity. Whether it is weapons, tactics, locale, lingo, the author goes to painstaking lengths to ensure the readers get as close to the "real" action as possible. Indeed, what really attracted me to "The Gray Man" series was the lean, direct and razor-sharp writing style of the author - there is no unnecessary "fluff" in his prose: every word has a purpose, nothing is ever wasted. High speed, low drag - just like Court Gentry himself.
The only bad part about this book is the fact that it ended. If I could give it a rating higher than 5 stars, I would. Flat-out my favorite book of the year, and now one of my top 5 all-time.