The following review is a special for BlackFive readers provided by Elise Cooper. You can read all of our book reviews and author interviews by clicking on the Books category link in the right side bar.
Mission Critical by Mark Greaney is a suspenseful, action-packed thriller. Readers will be delighted with the return of Zoya Zakharova, a female Gray Manand a kindred spirit. Greaney has the knack of intertwining geopolitics with first-rate characters and non-stop action.
Greaney noted, “I went to a three-day stunt driving school at the Atlanta Motor Speedway. I wanted to write the car chase scene as realistic as possible. I did the J-turns, the 180s, and the drifting. I did almost everything Court did in the book except crawling in the back seat and shooting out of the back window. I actually went into reverse at a pretty high speed. I looked over my shoulder and took my right hand to the 9 O’clock position. Then I moved the steering wheel as hard to the right as possible, did a 180-degree turn and floored it. I had to be careful because instinctively my foot always wanted to hit the brake as I was spinning out of control. I literally had to kick my heels back so it touched the seat. I had Court do something similar.”
This novel combines two plots in one. The CIA mustuncover a mole within their midst, while a special ops group, code named Poison Apple, must uncover who is behind a bioweapon attack and where will it take place. One of the CIA’s most important contractors is Court Gentry, known as The Gray Man, with the code name Violator. He does off the books ops for Matt Hanley, Deputy Director of Operations, and Gentry's handler, the ambitious Suzanne Brewer.
The plot begins when he is asked to return to Langley on a CIA transport plane that first must make a stopover in London to drop off a prisoner. Unfortunately, they are comprised and many are killed, with the prisoner kidnapped. Court assists in finding out what happened, which reunites him with his former lover, Zoya.
Zoya, the female lead in a previous book, Gunmetal Gray, is Gentry’s equal. Now a CIA asset, part of the Poison Apple program, code named Anthem, this former SVR Russian intelligence agent, escapes from the safe house to find her father who she thought had been dead. Both her mother and father were valuable Russian spies. Dad was the GRU director, General Feodor Zakharov, while mom trained Russian operatives’ in language and proper dialect skills, grooming them to live in England or the United States as natives. After finding out her father’s mission she and Gentry, now joined by the third asset in Poison Apple, Zach Hightower, code named Romantic, must stop the terrorists at any cost.
“I wrote her as a type of chameleon. Raised in different countries she was taught to blend in, to melt into the different fabrics. I see her as a force for good. Yet, I think she sees herself as a little less than that, which allows me to be able to move in different directions with her. I do not think she is as moralistic as Court and is more out for herself. She is not as altruistic as he is.”
This book shows why Mark Greaney has a legitimate claim to be one of the top, if not the top thriller writers today. There are so many twists and turns readers will be kept on their toes throughout the story of betrayal between Brewer and her team, as well as with Zoya and her father.