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Today we are really pleased to welcome back bestselling author, Mark Greaney!
Relentless by Mark Greaney
Relentless by Mark Greaney is how the main character, The Gray Man, Court Gentry, is defined. The title also describes how the story will blow people’s minds with all the action and intrigue.
The plot opens with Gentry in the hospital being treated for an infection caused by a knife wound. He is asked to head to Venezuela to find a rogue NSA employee and interrogate him for information. He finds out that there is software, PowerSlave, that can identify operatives and that the UAE plans on using an Iranian cell to start a war. After discovering that his love interest and fellow member of “Poison Apple” is in Berlin, he heads there.
Zoya Zakharova has infiltrated a private intelligence firm, Shrike, with some alarming connections. While Gentry has been forbidden from contacting her, his job is to provide backup, should she need it. Shrike has been providing surveillance on several Iranian sleeper agents for their client. Needless to say, they find a way to work together to find information about those wanting to orchestrate a terror attack that could lead to a war between the US and Iran. Not only is Zoya in danger because of her mission she is also being hunted by Russian operatives who are attempting to assassinate her. As a former SVR agent who defected, the Russians want her dead or alive. Court and Zoya know they work best when working together, helping each other to survive and prevent a war.
Mark Greaney definitely has become one of the top thriller authors. His characters are very well developed, and plots filled with hard hitting action and riveting tension. He is able to create storylines where his characters are up against assassins, mercenaries, spies, and terrorists.
Elise Cooper: Why the UAE and Iran?
Mark Greaney: I read an article in an intelligence magazine that explained how the US has an agreement with the UAE. The US will not collect intelligence on that country. I thought –what if something went wrong? After doing some research I saw that we are not always allies and did have some problems in the past. As I was finishing my last edits, news broke out that the UAE and Israel were signing an agreement to work together against Iran. The UAE was worried that the US might not come through for them. They are Sunni and are worried about the expansion of Shite Iran.
EC: Any of it true?
MG: Yes, the UAE is contracting American mercenaries to do assassinations in Yemen. Also, a private intelligence company did hire people from Mossad, NSA, and the CIA to work cyber hacking. There is this company run by the UAE who sees Iran as the enemy and wanted to stalk flames.
EC: Why the main focus of the setting in Berlin?
MG: I wanted to do this book in Berlin before I had a story. I wanted it to have a Cold War feel with geo-political issues. This is where a lot of the action takes place. At the core, this is a spy story.
EC: It is always great when Zoya plays a role in the story?
MG: Just like Court, she is on the run from different people, sometimes the Agency. I want Zoya to always be looking over her shoulder. She is a really important character. There are parallels between their two lives. I do like their relationship but will never have them married and having a baby.
EC: PowerSlave is real?
MG: Not yet. Every year it becomes harder and harder to spy with human intelligence. Computer algorithms can predict someone’s gait. Operatives do have their biometric data stored with American agencies. The technology does exist to identify people. Although human intelligence is the best to find information inside someone’s head, it is getting tougher and tougher to cover someone’s identity.
EC: You always present Court with unique enemies?
MG: Court has a bone infection. It prevented him from doing what he wanted in the needed timeframe. It made him weak. I did not want a character like those in the movies and TV shows where someone gets shot or stabbed and then they are right back into the action. Realistically, Court has suffered a fair amount of physical abuse.
EC: Why a bone infection?
MG: In the previous book, One Minute Out, he is stabbed. Now he has an infection, which makes him more vulnerable. It is one more enemy he needs to fight. I hope this shows his true grit. I came up with this from my own personal experience. About five years ago, I had surgery on my foot. I ended up getting an infection where I needed to have IV seven days a week for eight weeks.
EC: There was an Iranian General killed by a US drone. Sounds familiar?
MG: I put it in after it happened last year to Soleimani. I wrote it where Iran did not respond, but an operative did respond. I hope it adds another layer of intrigue. In the book the Deputy Director of the CIA said the General needed to go. He is a real bad guy even if it does not make it safter for the US. This guy in real life and in the book got what was coming to him. Hopefully, the next guy will think twice.
EC: Matt Hanley, the head of the CIA program, Poison Apple, has a Colt 1911 gun-do you?
MG: I do not own one. It has been used by Special Forces operatives over the years. It is a type of gun and the model is 1911.
EC: Suzanne Brewer seems to be getting worse and worse?
MG: The reader does know more about her than Zack, Zoya, or Court. I think it adds tension to the story. She is a Class A manipulator who only cares about herself and her career trajectory. She is becoming more powerful.
EC: The Gray Man movie is being made by Netflix?
MG: It is a two-hour film of the first book. They start filming on March 1st. Gentry will be played by Ryan Gosling and the villain Lloyd by Chris Evans. I did not have an official say but the Russo brothers did talk to me about the character and storyline. When they wrote the first script it was fantastic and followed close to the book itself. Joe Russo and I have stayed in touch. I understand that this is not the book and the directors, screenwriters, and actors will have their own artistic interpretation. It has a really big budget-the most Netflix has ever spent. What is finally shot and edited I find out at the same time as everyone else.
EC: What about your next book?
MG: I am just now starting to write it. It will involve some things in Court’s past, about twelve years ago, when he worked in the paramilitary unit known as the Goon Squad. There will also be a present-day parallel plot line. It will take place in Pakistan, India, and Turkey. Currently, Brewer will be in the next book, Zach will be in the part of the book in the past, and Zoya will not be in it at all. But since she is a major player, she will never be out more than one book. I think Court is at his best when he has people to play off of. I will be expanding the cast of characters.
Relentless by Mark Greaney
The first agent disappearance was a puzzle.
The second was a mystery.
The third was a conspiracy.
Intelligence operatives around the world are disappearing. When a missing American agent re-appears in Venezuela, Court Gentry, the Gray Man, is dispatched to bring him in, but a team of assassins has other ideas. Court escapes with his life and a vital piece of intelligence.
Meanwhile, CIA agent Zoya Zakharova is in Berlin. Her mission: to infiltrate a private intelligence firm with some alarming connections. The closer she gets to answers, the less likely she is to get out alive.
Court and Zoya are just two pieces on this international chessboard, and they’re about to discover one undeniable truth—sometimes capturing a king requires sacrificing some pawns.