A Library Find
Book covers command attention as was the case with Burner by Mark Greaney. A speedboat racing away from the setting sun, out of the coastal harbor, shadowed by a cliff-how could I pass this by? Plus, it was on the new release table at the library and from an author I did not identify-hard to believe if your favorite genre is action thrillers.
Greaney is an established writer co-writing the later books in Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series as well as creating The Grey Man series himself. I realized none of this as I began reading Burner. However, the book stands on its own merits without previous knowledge of the series, characters or even Netflix. Yes, The Grey Man series is apparently available through the streaming channel.
Contemporary Issues in Burner Plot
The novel opens with Courtland Gentry mounting explosives on a yacht belonging to a Russian oligarch. Court is known by many names- The Gray Man and Six are just two- and he is former CIA. Burner mirrors current affairs with a conflict between Russia and Ukraine. Therefore, the plot line may be of interest to readers not devoted to the action-thriller genre.
Information implicating politicians, bankers and others is smuggled out of Russia into Switzerland and onto New York City. Multiple governmental agencies as well as private parties are willing to go to great lengths to secure the data. So, Court is just one of many on the hunt trying to figure out the good guys from the bad guys. Identities are murky and loyalties are tested.
Cast of Characters
Major action scenes unwind from the Caribbean to Europe to the United States of America. Naturally, each location needs secondary characters. Multiple characters can be found moving from location to location as well. Greaney provides a list of characters in the dramatis personae and I referred back to the list a few times. Americans, Ukrainians and Russians dominate the list. Several characters also have code names on top of aliases. This could be confusing but Greaney keeps everyone and everything in order.
The Gray Man is the protagonist. He has a love interest and multiple opponents. Fortunately, a current CIA operative acts as a back-up of sorts. Angela Lacy, a very competent agent is also a pacifist. So, her support is limited. And though she trusts Gentry she dislikes the love of his life, Former Russian SVR Zoya Zakharova.
Recommendation for Burner
Mark Greaney’s thriller Burner is an absolute winner. The book is part of a series, but can be read out of order as a stand alone by those interested in current events. The characters are so compelling one might want to turn back to prior books in the series or look for the Netflix adaptation of the first book in the series. Greaney is a masterful writer and will keep you turning the pages for more.