The "Gray Man" of the title is an uber-assassin, moving like a ghost, striking unstoppably. That is what everyone in this book says, anyway. It turns out, this is no Day of the Jackal" and our hero is no "Bob Lee Swagger". In reality, as presented, he bumbles his way through Europe escaping the massive efforts of an evil (French, of course) corporation through a combination of extreme marksmanship and fighting skill while wounded, and dumb luck; he is often saved by the missteps of his enemies or, I kid you not, things like umbrellas. At one point he defeats an enemy who, as presented, he should lose to.
Speaking of wounds, this begins to seem like a Road Runner cartoon and the massive injuries our hero keeps bouncing back from become laughable. The dialog is sometimes very good indeed, and then, next paragraph, wincingly bad: chest-thumping macho stuff instead of the cold communication of professionals.
To give credit to the author,he presents us with an individual representing the corporation whom you really, really hate; good job there. Our assassin is a "good guy", trying to knock off only those who are evil. That may be unrealistic or impractical, but it is refreshing. He also makes an effort to respect the reader's intelligence by providing practical motivations for the corporations egregious allowance of general mayhem and emotional motivations for the hunter and the hunted. I cannot buy the corporations ultimate, unsatisfying reasons.
The ending is illogical and unsatisfying, but obviously designed to set up a sequel.
This is the first of 4 books. This one is good, and by book four, I am giving 5 stars.
Juvenile dialog, pretty good writing, and MASTERFUL action scenes. Unlike Ben Coes or Mark Greany, Tom Wood really knows how to write a believable and nail-biting action scene that does not take you out of the moment with cartoonish stupidity or technical inaccuracy.
Victor is a great creation, and pretty consistent in his actions and most but not all of what he says.
The writing is pretty good, with the occasional dangling participle but very smooth syntax. The silly dialog improves bit by bit in the next 3 books (yes, there are more!) and Victor becomes more sympathetic while the CIA becomes less evil. I would remind Rob Shapiro, the narrator, that the word is "prostrate", not "Prostate"-- an error he repeats in the next book in the series. Shapiro is good, but I wish he would tone down the querulous whining and let the dialog carry some of the load.
Often, when an author paints his beleaguered hero into a "how will he ever get out of this?" corner, the escape is disappointingly unbelievable. But no Deus Ex Machina here, Tom Wood comes up with some very clever solutions, stratagems, and twists.
Tom Wood is intelligent. I like that in an author. Some of what gets published today is really lowest common denominator stuff, but here we have logic and believability.
If you like this first book about Victor, you are in for a treat, as they keep getting better, and Wood gets better at keeping you guessing.
Obviously more coming
Michael Z. Williamson "Freehold" series for Buetner's "Orphan" series for combat and social awareness.
My Gosh! Stop with the stereotypical raspy voice for almost all military.
Can't stay awake that long, or I would.
Read "Terms of Enlistment" first, if you can, although this novel does well enough as a stand-alone. Marko Kloos has revealed himself as quite the subversive, and I approve! He seems to think that sometimes, a society will endure a time when it is not the cream that rises to the top, but the ... well, you know.
In the first book of this series (may there be many more!) Grayson is a callow youth; not stupid, mind you, just living in a black and white world. He is optimistic in a world that is falling apart. In "Lines" he has begun to realize that he is those at the top are behaving with perverse stupidity, and he slowly comes to know that he has to do something about it or lose his self respect.
A weakness of the book is Kloos aliens: what makes them tick. Why are they so powerful and yet so apparently stupid. Humans are cockroaches to them, such is their technological superiority. They wipe us out like we would fumigate termites, and as easily. But I don't know of any termites that can band together to kill humans, or burn down a house rather than let you move in. The aliens inscrutability is taken too far. Wouldn't they make more effort to stop us from fighting back if they are so powerful? Maybe Kloos will explain this in the next book.
And there better be a next book. Our hero is likable and the writing is smooth and professional.
But please, again, narrator Luke Daniels, stop with the constricted throat rasping voice for all ground troops except our hero and his girlfriend. Even Sergeant Brianna sounds like a weight lifter. And apparently all the pilots speak in a rapid monotone or with a Tennessee twang. Oh, another choice for soldiers is that some sound like Squiggy from Lavern and Shirley. There are about 5 exaggerated voices that are used over and over again. Gets really annoying.
Having been so mean to our Narrator, let me say that his performance choices are very important, and can change the quality of the book. Luke Daniels is good! Just never let him do military voices again unless he broadens his repertoire.
The narrator has about 3 voices and 2 accents. He does not serve the material well. The characters are not developed. The moral qualms of the soldiers are unrealistic in the situation as described. Too many characters who are not anchored by time and place and personality. Poor writing. I can't give it one star because the spelling was fine.
I love Lee Child's writing, and his observations and asides still enchant. I almost never give a pass to unrealistic situations but somehow when Reacher uncovers byzantine conspiracies and ends up out of touch and out of reach in a Corner of Nowhere despite this being an extremely connected society... I go along. I don't know why I cut Child so much slack. Perhaps it is because I love the "Stranger comes to Town" trope.
I just the author would get back to more grounded situations. The villains were faceless. We never get to know them. That can work, but here it just makes the conflict oddly bloodless despite all the blood.
Oddly David Baldacci's "Zero Day" has been called a Jack Reacher homage, and I find "A Wanted Man" to be weirdly evocative of "Zero Day", and I know that is either a strange coincidence... or a conspriacy!
One final note on action and violence: way way to little. Reacher never even punches someone in the stomach till near the end of the book. I appreciate that he is a detective unraveling a mystery, but he is a very large, very strong detective who knows how to fight dirty. The best fight is the one you walk away from--- unless you're a thriller writer.
Half as Good as "Beat the Reaper" which still places it very high on my list. Does not have the intensity or pace of BTR, but is still well-written. I am not rating based on Bazell's Politics. I am not rating his views on Global warming. I am rating the writing and the story. If I can stomach Steven Hunter for the sake of his great story-telling ability, then I suggest "Wild Thing" is just as tasty a dish even if you don't like the color of the napkin. Actually, I think he treated Palin with mild whimsy, compared to Captain Bonobo (Obama) in Hunter's "Soft Target".
I do wish we had stayed on the cruise ship for the whole book. Imagine the fun he could have had. After BTR, you never want to go near a hospital again. Just think of what Josh could have done with our desire to take a nice cruise.
The Narration was great. If it bothers you, beware the profanity
If you like your humorous revenge psychopathic, this is the story for you. Before there was Dexter, there was Serge, and he isn't fooling anybody. He's your (vastly hyper and annoying) friend for life... unless you're a jerk... then you're dead! In some elaborate and hilarious way. I love the way Dorsey weaves together disparate strands into his typical explosive climaxes. He is a careful plotter and a very clever writer. Love it.
The characters were flat and the story was full of missed potential. This was not vivid work, and I did not care what happened to these unlovable characters.
Fantastic material rendered dreary by somnolent narration, repetition of material, and unsupported fictional interpretations about what "no doubt" happened. "No doubt" becomes a code phrase for "wild guess".
Just how was it so easy for the Spanish to so overwhelmingly dominate the battlefield? Sure, they had horses and armor, but scores or a few hundred Spaniards against literally thousands of their Incan opponents and they weren't overwhelmed like spiders by army ants? I don't think we will ever know the real answers, but the important military aspects are glossed over, and there are not even any particularly good guesses as to why the "brilliant" Peruvian generals were such twits.
The amazing villainies of the Conquistadors are described baldly and boringly indeed. You have to rely on your own imagination to flesh out this tale and bring it to life, for you will find little enough juice in the narrative.
Historians have little to go on, but the guesses presented here are unconvincing and uninteresting.
God, maybe it's because my own Dad was a vet of the same age, but by the end of this thing, I was so choked up I couldn't talk for awhile. What a beautiful, touching ending.
This was a vital, powerful human being, and I am sure we only touched the surface of his life.
My favorite parts were the technical and flying passages. I loved the stuff about dealing with the torque of the P-51, and mastering aircraft without any familiarization, and the war tactics.
It opened my eyes about SAC, and the inside of a previously opaque organization, The USAF.
Why couldn't a guy like that fly forever?
I never "felt" what it was like aboard before.The author really makes me see the hugeness of this wooden battleship and feel the salt and wind. Marvelous. The first half of this book is magnificent in that sense, and gives you the "downstairs" of a pressed man, rather than the "upstairs" of a Hornblower or Maturin. The second half of the book changes tone almost jarringly, with adventures that are described in an unbelievable fashion (even if they are based on fact) and dialog that is clumsy. Still, I want more of this series.
Narrator is good, except that Kydd's accent keeps changing.
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