Bad guys galore live and die in this latest entry in the Gray Man series (Agent in Place, 2018, etc.).
Courtland Gentry—code-named Violator —is a freelance assassin on contract with the CIA. His handler, series regular Suzanne Brewer, is often frustrated with his propensity to act alone. “Being a team player had been fun while it lasted,” Violator muses at one point, “but it was time to go off mission.” So Brewer is tempted to take drastic action, but he’s hardly her only problem. Zoya Zakharova is a former Russian spy code-named Anthem who’s flipped to the West and is “an equally insubordinate singleton.” The threat they all have to worry about is definitely a team player. She is Won Jang-Mi, aka Janice Won, a West-hating North Korean scientist specializing in pneumonic plague and hemorrhagic fever. Russians are behind a plot for Won to unleash a biological attack on the West, and she has a 10-week deadline to get it done. Meanwhile, Zakharova’s father, Feodor Zakharov, now lives in the West under the alias David Mars, and each believes the other is dead. Father and daughter working passionately on opposite sides—imagine the coming family reunion! This novel is vintage Greaney, with a tight plot, a ticking clock, and a sympathetic antihero. Violator is “not psyched at all about killing multiple carloads of men,” but he loses no sleep over it, either. The action is almost nonstop, with nice twists right to the end. There are also small doses of humor, as when tough guy Zack Hightower whines about his CIA code name, Romantic. The characters are by and large plucked from central casting, but they suit the story’s needs well enough.
This is good, Clancy-esque entertainment. May the evildoers of the world have nightmares that Violator becomes a real person.