The Gray Man (Gray Man Series #1)

The Gray Man (Gray Man Series #1)

by Mark Greaney


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“Hard, fast, and unflinching—exactly what a thriller should be.”—Lee Child

To those who lurk in the shadows, he’s known as the Gray Man. He is a legend in the covert realm, moving silently from job to job, accomplishing the impossible and then fading away. And he always hits his target. Always.

But there are forces more lethal than Gentry in the world. Forces like money. And power. And there are men who hold these as the only currency worth fighting for. And in their eyes, Gentry has just outlived his usefulness.
But Court Gentry is going to prove that, for him, there’s no gray area between killing for a living and killing to stay alive…

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780425276389
Publisher: Penguin Publishing Group
Publication date: 09/02/2014
Series: Gray Man Series , #1
Edition description: Reprint
Pages: 384
Sales rank: 45,275
Product dimensions: 5.30(w) x 7.80(h) x 1.00(d)
Age Range: 18 Years

About the Author

Mark Greaney has a degree in international relations and political science. In his research for the Gray Man novels, including Agent in PlaceGunmetal GrayBack Blast, Dead Eye, Ballistic, On Target, and The Gray Man, he traveled to more than fifteen countries and trained alongside military and law enforcement in the use of firearms, battlefield medicine, and close-range combative tactics. He is also the author of the New York Times bestsellers Tom Clancy Support and Defend, Tom Clancy Full Force and Effect, Tom Clancy Commander in Chief, and Tom Clancy True Faith and Allegiance. With Tom Clancy, he coauthored Locked On, Threat Vector, and Command Authority.


Memphis, Tennessee

Date of Birth:


Read an Excerpt

Warning: This excerpt contains content of an adult subject matter and adult language.


A flash of light in the distant morning sky captured the attention of the Land Rover's blood-soaked driver. Polarized Oakleys shielded his eyes from the brunt of the sun's rays; still, he squinted through his windshield's glare, desperate to identify the burning aircraft that now spun and hurtled towards earth, a smoldering comet's tail of black smoke left hanging above it.

It was a helicopter, a large Army Chinook, and horrific though the situation must have been for those on board, the driver of the Land Rover breathed a subdued sigh of relief. His extraction transport was to be a Russian-built KA-32T, crewed by Polish mercenaries and flown in from over the border in Turkey. The driver found the dying Chinook regrettable but preferable to a dying KA-32T.

He watched the chopper spin in its uncontrolled descent, staining the blue sky directly in front of him with burning fuel.

He turned the Land Rover hard to the right and accelerated eastward. The blood-soaked driver wanted to get as far away from here as fast as possible. As much as he wished there was something he could do for the Americans on board the Chinook, he knew their fate was out of his hands.

And he had his own problems. For five hours he'd raced across the flatlands of western Iraq, fleeing the dirty work he'd left behind, and now he was less than twenty minutes from his exfiltration. A shot-down chopper meant that in minutes this place would be crawling with armed fighters, defiling bodies, shooting assault rifles into the air, and jumping around like fucking morons.

It was a party the bloodstained driver would not mind missing, lest he himself become a party favor.

The Chinook sank off to his left and disappeared behind a brown ridge in the distance.

The driver fixed his eyes on the road ahead. Not my problem, he told himself. He was not trained to search and to rescue, he was not trained to give aid, and he  certainly was not trained to negotiate for hostages.

He was trained to kill. He'd done so back over the border in Syria, and now it was time to get out of the kill zone.

As his Rover accelerated through the haze and dust at over one hundred kilometers an hour, he began a dialogue with himself. His inner voice wanted to turn back, to race to the Chinook's crash site to check for survivors. His outer voice, on the other hand, was more pragmatic.

"Keep moving, Gentry, just keep moving. Those dudes are fucked. Nothing you can do about it."

Gentry's spoken words were sensible, but his inner monologue just would not shut up.


The first gunmen arriving at the crash site were not Al Qaeda and had nothing to do with the shoot down. They were four local boys with old wooden--stocked Kalashnikovs who'd held a sloppy morning roadblock a hundred meters from where the chopper impacted with the city street. The boys pushed through the growing phalanx of onlookers, the shopkeepers and the street kids who dove for cover when the twin-rotor helicopter hurtled down among them, and the taxi drivers who swerved off the road to avoid the American craft. The four young gunmen approached the scene warily but without a shred of tactical skill. A loud snap from the raging fire, a single handgun round cooking off in the heat, sent them all to cover. After a moment's hesitation, their heads popped back up, they aimed their rifles, and then emptied their barking and bucking guns into the twisted metal machine.

A man in a blackened American military uniform crawled from the wreckage and received two dozen rounds from the boys' weapons. The soldier's struggle ceased as soon as the first bullets raked across his back.

Braver now after the adrenaline rush of killing a man in front of the crowd of shouting civilians, the boys broke cover and moved closer to the wreckage. They reloaded their rifles and raised them to shoot at the burning bodies of the flight crew in the cockpit. But before they could open fire, three vehicles raced up from behind: pickup trucks full of armed Arabian foreigners.

Al Qaeda.

The local kids wisely backed away from the aircraft, stood back with the civilians, and chanted a devotional to God as the masked men fanned out in the road around the wreckage.

The broken corpses of two more soldiers fell clear from the rear of the Chinook, and these were the first images of the scene caught by the three-man Al Jazeera camera crew that jumped from truck three.

Just under a mile away, Gentry pulled off the road, turned into a dry streambed, and forced the Land Rover as deep as possible into the tall brown river grasses. He climbed out of the truck and raced to the tailgate, swung a pack onto his back, and hefted a long camel-colored case by its carry handle.

As he moved away from the vehicle, he noticed the drying blood all over his loose-fitting local clothing for the first time. The blood was not his own, but there was no mystery to the stain.

He knew whose blood it was.

Thirty seconds later, he crested the little ridge by the streambed and crawled forward as quickly as possible while pushing his gear in front of him. When Gentry felt suitably invisible in the sand and reeds, he pulled a pair of binoculars from the pack and brought them to his eyes, centered on the plume of black smoke rising in the distance.

His taut jaw muscles flexed.

The Chinook had come to rest on a street in the town of al Ba'aj, and already a mob had descended on the debris. Gentry's binoculars were not powerful enough to provide much detail, so he rolled onto his side and unsnapped the camel-colored case.

Inside was a Barrett M107, a fifty-caliber rifle that fired shells half the size of beer bottles and dispatched the heavy bullets with a muzzle velocity of nearly nine football fields a second.

Gentry did not load the gun, only aimed the rifle at the crash site to use the powerful optics mounted to it. Through the sixteen-power glass he could see the fire, the pickup trucks, the unarmed civilians, and the armed gunmen.

Some were unmasked. Local thugs.

Others wore black masks or wrapped keffiyeh to cover their faces. This would be the Al Qaeda contingent. The foreign fucks. Here to kill Americans and collaborators and to take advantage of the instability in the region.

A glint of metal rose into the air and swung down. A sword hacking at a figure on the ground. Even through the powerful sniper scope Gentry could not tell if the  prostrate man had been dead or alive when the blade slashed into him.

His jaw tightened again. Gentry was not an American soldier himself, never had been. But he was an American. And although he had neither responsibility for nor relationship with the U.S. military, he'd seen years of images on television of carnage just like that which was happening before him, and it both sickened and angered him to the very limits of his considerable self-control.

The men around the aircraft began to undulate as one. In the glare from the heat pouring out of the arid earth between his overwatch and the crash site, it took him a moment to grasp what was happening, but soon he recognized the inevitable outpouring of gleeful emotion from the butchers around the downed helicopter.

The bastards were dancing over the bodies.

Gentry unwrapped his finger from the trigger guard of the huge Barrett and let his fingertip stroke the smooth trigger. His laser range finder told him the distance, and a small group of canvas tents between himself and the dance party flapped in the breeze and gave him an idea of the windage.

But he knew better than to fire the Barrett. If he charged the weapon and pulled the trigger, he would kill a couple of shitheads, yes, but the area would turn so hot in an instant with news of a sniper in the sector that every postpubescent male with a gun and a mobile phone would be on his ass before he made it to within five miles of his extraction. Gentry's exfiltration would be called off, and he would have to make his own way out of the kill zone.

No, Gentry told himself. A meager measure of payback would be righteous, but it would set off a bigger shit storm than he was prepared to deal with.

Gentry was not a gambler. He was a private assassin, a hired gun, a contract operator. He could frag a half dozen of these pricks as fast as he could lace his boots, but he knew such retribution would not be worth the cost.

He spat a mixture of saliva and sand on the ground in front of him and turned to put the huge Barrett back in its case.

The camera crew from Al Jazeera had been smuggled over the border from Syria a week earlier with the sole purpose of chronicling an Al Qaeda victory in northern Iraq. The videographer, the audio technician, and the reporter/producer had been moved along an AQ route, had slept in AQ safe houses alongside the AQ cell, and they'd filmed the launch of the missile, the impact with the Chinook, and the resulting fireball in the sky.

Now they recorded the ritualistic decapitation of an already dead American soldier. A middle--aged man with handwritten name tape affixed to his body armor that read, "Phillips—Mississippi National Guard." Not one of the camera crew spoke English, but they all agreed they had clearly just recorded the destruction of an elite unit of CIA commandos.

The customary praise of Allah began with the dancing of the fighters and the firing of the weapons into the air. Although the AQ cell numbered only sixteen, there were over thirty armed men now in step with one another in front of the smoldering metal hulk in the street. The videographer focused his lens on a moqtar, a local chieftain, dancing in the center of the festivities. Framing him perfectly in front of the wreckage, his flowing white dishdasha contrasting magnificently with the black smoke billowing up behind him. The moqtar bounced on one foot over the decapitated American, his right hand above him swinging a bloody scimitar into the air.

This was the money shot. The videographer smiled and did his best to remain professional, careful to not follow along with the rhythm and dance in celebration of the majesty of Allah to which he and his camera now bore witness.

The moqtar shouted into the air with the rest. "Allahu Akhbar!" God is greater! He hopped in euphoria with the masked foreigners, his thick facial hair opened to reveal a toothy smile as he looked down at the burnt and bloody piece of dead American meat lying in the street below him.

The crew from Al Jazeera shouted in ecstasy as well. And the videographer filmed it all with a steady hand.

He was a pro; his subject remained centered, his camera did not tremble or flinch.

Not until the moment when the moqtar's head snapped to the side, burst open like a pressed grape, and sinew, blood, and bone spewed violently in all directions.

Then the camera flinched.

Gentry just couldn't help himself.

He fired round after round at the armed men in the  crowd, and all the while he cussed aloud at his lack of discipline, because he knew he was throwing his own timetable, his entire operation out the window. Not that he could hear his own curses. Even with his earplugs, the report of the Barrett was deafening as he sent huge projectiles downrange, one after another, the  blowback from the rifle's muzzle break propelling sand and debris from the ground around him up and into his face and arms.

As he paused to snap a second heavy magazine into the rifle, he took stock of his situation. From a tradecraft perspective, this was the single dumbest move he could have made, virtually shouting to the insurgents around him that their mortal enemy was here in their midst.

But damn if it did not feel like the right thing to do. He resecured the big rifle in the crook of his shoulder, already throbbing from the recoil, sighted on the downed chopper site, and resumed his righteous payback. Through the big scope he saw body parts spin through the air as another huge bullet found the midsection of a masked gunman.

This was simple revenge, nothing more. Gentry knew his actions altered little in the scope of things, apart from changing a few sons of bitches from solids into liquids. His body continued firing into the now scattering murderers, but his mind was already worrying about his immediate future. He wouldn't even try for the LZ now. Another chopper in the area would be a target too good for the angry AQ survivors to ignore. No, Gentry decided, he would go to ground: find a drainage culvert or a little wadi, cover himself in dirt and debris, lie all day in the heat, and ignore hunger and bug bites and his need to piss.

It was going to suck.

Still, he reasoned as he slammed the third and final magazine into the smoking rifle, his poor decision did serve some benefit. A half dozen dead shitheads are, after all, a half dozen dead shitheads.


Excerpted from "The Gray Man"
by .
Copyright © 2014 Mark Greaney.
Excerpted by permission of Penguin Publishing Group.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

What People are Saying About This

From the Publisher

“Take fictional spy Jason Bourne, pump him up with Red Bull and meth, shake vigorously—and you’ve got the recipe for Court Gentry.” —The Memphis Commercial Appeal

“A high-octane thriller that doesn’t pause for more than a second for all of its 464 pages…Greaney has a good understanding of weapons and tactics…and he uses that to enliven his storytelling, including lots of the kinds of details that action junkies love…For readers looking for a thriller where the action comes fast and furious, this is the ticket.”—Chicago Sun-Times

“Here is a debut novel like a well-honed dagger: sharp, merciless, and deadly. Mark Greaney’s The Gray Man is Bourne for the new millennium…Never has an assassin been rendered so real yet so deadly. Strikes with the impact of a bullet to the chest...A debut not to be missed.”—James Rollins, New York Times bestselling author of The Eye of God

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The Gray Man 4.2 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 78 reviews.
Bibliophante More than 1 year ago
Until the past year or so, a vast majority of my readings have been in various non-fiction areas. After the Classics, I have quickly found the Thrillers genre to be entirely engrossing. And I thought to myself: being a new audience member to the genre, why not read a new writer in the genre? Hence, I picked up Mark Greaney's fabulous debut novel--The Gray Man--and am thoroughly glad I did. I've read a slew of thriller novels over the past year, and this novel epitmozing everything the genre's literature represents...and then proceeds to raise the bar to grand new levels--with stunning success! The story is high-octane, globe-spanning, quick, and complex enough to add narrative depth in character persona and extensive character casting. Greaney's writing style is terse, to-the-point, highly informative, and never tedious or drawl. All characters perfectly fit the various genre archetypes you'd find in other books or movies. The villains are archetypal, narrowly so or entirely. For example, there is the younger, corporate, arrogant, intellectual character; and also, there is the implacable, principled, experienced type. They even have the culturally criminal bad-guy appearance, say the Nordic Schwarzengger-ish or Asian martial artist types. The secondary characters know their place and have limited abilities as such. There is the wise, old, principled mentor. And, of course, the hero himself--torn between what his career has made him and that "other" life that has always been outside his grasp. Concerning the plot's action intensity, comparing it to a boxing match would be like recommending you maintain the endurance of Rocky Balboa. There is no stop or lag in the action. The reading is also highly informative, if you're interested in: warfare and its weapons, training, and accessories; international intelligence and military groups; and, even some international culture thrown in the mix. What I really enjoy about the Gray Man is his admirable tenacity to maintain positive principles. And also his ability to endure and continue on his quest when you just think the guy can't take anymore of a beating to his person! A uniqueness I've still found after reading many Thrillers, is the absorbing plot involving one professional versus many. The hunter being hunted by other hunters. Truly engrossing! If you want a book that will be a standard to set for future thrillers you may read, this one is IT!!!!
RobertTheWriter More than 1 year ago
Just when you think the thriller genre has drained dry every thematic wellspring, along comes a fresh new talent who draws on timeless themes and transforms them into something original and exciting. Mark Greaney is the talent, and his debut novel, THE GRAY MAN, represents his dazzling entrance into the thriller field. This tale completely refurbishes hoary, even mythic themes, such as the knight-errant, the lone-wolf assassin, the betrayed/renegade CIA officer, and the non-stop chase story, combining them into a novel of hold-your-breath action and relentless suspense. Court Gentry is the best assassin the CIA ever produced. By psychology and moral character, he is a sheepdog in a world of sheep and wolves -- a protector of the innocent who kills only those who really, REALLY need killing. Double-crossed and betrayed, he is forced out of the Agency and into the cold. There he resumes his deadly trade as a paid assassin working for private security contractor Sir Donald Fitzroy, a retired MI5 boss -- but again, targeting only those who really, REALLY need killing. His international reputation becomes legendary as the shadowy "Gray Man." However, his latest job has big repercussions. He's killed the brother of a Nigerian despot who wants revenge. The dictator turns to the unscrupulous bosses of a gigantic multinational corporation with a powerful and deadly security apparatus -- and huge contracts with the Nigerian government. He lays down an unconditional demand: Hunt down and kill the Gray Man within a week, or the lucrative government contracts will be canceled. The company -- one of whose corrupt officers used to work in the CIA with Gentry -- puts out a large bounty on the head of the elusive Gray Man. Tempted by the prospect of a big payday and professional prestige, teams of highly trained special-ops killers from governments around the world rush to Europe to find and assassinate the assassin. The hunter becomes the hunted. But to draw Gentry out of hiding, the corporate thugs kidnap the family of his boss. They threaten to murder Sir Donald's son, daughter-in-law, and granddaughters, unless he betrays Gentry and draws him into a trap. Having no choice, the former spymaster agrees. What ensues is an action-crammed, fox-versus-hounds pursuit across Europe, as the best assassin in the world must run a deadly gauntlet of scores of his formidable rivals, in a series of explosive, escalating confrontations. Battered and bloodied from his ordeal, the Gray Man races against the ticking clock toward a mansion outside Paris, where the bait of his innocent friends pulls him into a final, apocalyptic showdown: one man against an army of killers. To research the novel, author Greaney trained with special ops personnel and toured Europe. He fills the tale with detailed knowledge of weaponry, clandestine tradecraft, military tactics, and scenic cities and villages. Adding to the plausibility of the tale is the psychological credibility of his characterizations -- most of all, of his grim, unstoppable, but poignantly lonely hero. THE GRAY MAN is "The Bourne Identity"...without a single slow spot in the pacing. In this rousing action tale, Mark Greaney has given us a new hero for our time. And I can't wait for his further adventures.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very good, starts out a bit slow but quickly picks up until you don't want to put it down
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
If this is Mark Greaney's debut novel, it is impossible to imagine how much more action and excitement can be packed in future writings. Proof of the pudding will be found in reading the future adventures of Court. Sounds like he is already taken on a new assignment. Stay tuned for future thriller reports. Recommended for action and adventure. J M Lydon
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I couldn't put the book down! I wanted to keep reading to see what would happen next, but had to stop to sleep, and work. I look forward to the rest in the series!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
One word for it, Riveting. I am a big Tom Clancy Fan and read Threat Vector penned by Mark and loved it. I have run out of TC books to read so i decided to try his writing. I am glad i did. This is the first in a series and i bought it so i would have a book to read a the beach in a week or so, it did not make it to the beach, i could not put it down and finished it before i left. Enjoy the summer read if you have not done so yet.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A lot of "covert world" cliches but delivery is good.
bridget3420 More than 1 year ago
Gentry is known as The Gray Man because of the stealth and sleekness of a trained assassin. When he's on the job, he's invisible. The victims are dead before they know what hit them. Gentry is a good soldier, he only kills people who deserve to die. He only has one real friend, Fitzroy who knows everything about Gentry. When he almost dies after a job, he finds out that he is alone in this world and has no one to turn to. Will his skills keep him alive or will an even more skilled killer be sent after him? A roller coaster of a thrill ride. This is a book that keeps you on your toes and doesn't let up.
outlawfarm More than 1 year ago
I bought "The Grey Man" by Mark Greaney having a read an ad in Townhall. The Nook price was $2.99, I was overcharged by about $2.98. The ad likened Mark Greaney to Tom Clancy. Nothing could be farther from the truth. Likening Greaney to Clancy does the greatest of disservices to the memory of Tom Clancy! As "The Grey Man" was the first in a series I thought I'd give the 2nd in the series, "On Target" a try. It was worse. Tom Clancy always did meticulous research. I'm not sure Greaney knows the meaning of research. If he does it's not reflected in his books. Also, he jumps around from something that might be possible to sheer fantasy, and i do mean fantasy. As if he is trying to make his book longer he goes into minute detail about the brand of orange juice a Russian oligarch drinks with breakfast and in the next paragraph the reader might be in an aircraft at 40,000 feet. Mark Greaney is a painful read.
LEH0644 More than 1 year ago
Court Gentry is known as the Gray Man. A former agent for the CIA, he is now a wanted man and works for the private sector. Although he is an assassin, he does have a personal code and takes out those he considers to be truly evil. When waiting on an extraction team, he sees a group of insurgents celebrating the downing of an American helicopter and watches as they kill one of the survivors. He knows he shouldn’t but the killing of his countrymen gets to him and he kills many of the terrorists. He realizes his extraction chopper won't be coming now and he has to find a way out of the area and quick. He heads back to England and his handler Sir Donald Fitzroy, where he finds he is now wanted by a French conglomerate and kill teams are on his heels.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Gives Jason Bourne a run for the money.
Henrys8 More than 1 year ago
Very interesting story!! This is the first book in the Gray Man series and my first time reading this author. The story has a lot of action and keeps you on edge all the way to the end. If you are into this kind of story line and characters you will not be disappointed. I am hooked and will need to read the rest of his books.
leducjm on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Mark Greaney's first book in the Gray Man series is a fast paced thrill ride. A character driven plot that will hook you from the first page and keep you reading late into the night. I couldn't wait to read the the other two books in the series.
crazybatcow on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
It was action-filled and entertaining. It did go WAY over the top - especially at the end where Court has been shot, beaten, injured, stabbed, and drugged and yet still manages to kill everyone. That and the main bad guy was beyond ridiculous... after a guy you're hunting kills like 40 people and yet doesn't show up on time you're gonna "punish" him because "he didn't try hard enough"... what on earth is that?The premise is a bit contrived too - why go through all the hassle of getting 12 "hit teams" to kill one guy for the cost of 35 plus million dollars when you could have hired the guy you're trying to kill to take out the guy who wants him killed for practically free? Just doesn't make much sense, really.If you accept the ridiculousness of the story, it is quite entertaining... and passes the time without making you have to think about anything.
bridget3420 on LibraryThing More than 1 year ago
Gentry is known as The Gray Man because of the stealth and sleekness of a trained assassin. When he's on the job, he's invisible. The victims are dead before they know what hit them. Gentry is a good soldier, he only kills people who deserve to die.He only has one real friend, Fitzroy who knows everything about Gentry. When he almost dies after a job, he finds out that he is alone in this world and has no one to turn to. Will his skills keep him alive or will an even more skilled killer be sent after him?A roller coaster of a thrill ride. This is a book that keeps you on your toes and doesn't let up.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A little over the top, but ok!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Awesome read...can’t wait for number two
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Very well done. I will definitely have to continue reading the series. This was a book that was hard to put down.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved this book. Discovered it quite by accident but glad I did. If you love action thillers, this book is definitely worth picking up. I am starting the second one as soon as I finish this review. Yes, it is that good.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Not realistic.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
i tried to read "The Gray Man", but at about 80 pages into it, the plot was ruined, and the dialogue was horrible. i quit reading it, and took it back to the library, and decided i didn't want to bother trying to read the rest of the book. the gray man was flushed out just under the 80 page mark, and was too much of a Jason Bourne wanna-be
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Excellent, adrenaline pumping book. Set in the exotic locales of Europe, with every possible bad guy you can think of chasing the unstoppable hero to the inevitable showdown, it was an enjoyable, page turning read.