I listened to the audiobook of this narrated by Jay Snyder and it was excellent. It's been a while since I read The Gray Man, so I was a little rusty on some details, but the book does a pretty good job of catching you up.
Court is a compelling character, undoubtedly a stone cold killer, but one with a moral compass. He started out as a CIA assassin and went private sector when he got burned, and when the book begins, he's four months out recovering from a standoff with his former employers at the CIA. Unfortunately, he has developed an opioid addiction that he somehow manages to keep in check for the most part. Now, he's having to take some assignments that aren't ideal. Gray gets picked up by a Russian gangster who wants him to do a hit on a certain leader in a certain country, and while he could say no, it wouldn't be exactly healthy for him. His former team commander contacts him to take the hit and turn it into a kidnapping, and that's when things get very interesting.
This book takes place over about a week, and it's practically nonstop action. Having said that, Greaney also leaves time for some introspection and character development with Court. While Court knows he's a killer, he knows right and wrong and would never be considered a psychopath or a monster, and he's far from sociopathic. When confronted with the genocide and ruthless murder and abuse of the black peoples of the Sudan, he wants to do something about it, even when it complicates his life greatly. He also has to save a woman who is in the wrong place at a terrible time. Court assumes responsibilities to keep her safe that involve killing others, and stands tall in the face of her judgmentalism about it. I personally was pretty annoyed at the woman. She was making some really stupid decisions and when Court risks his own mission to keep her ass safe, she's all up in his face calling him a monster. That conflict was interesting because it is timely with a lot of really profound evil going on in the world. When do our actions represent giving in to evil and compromising ourselves versus being a weapon for finding a rough sense of justice and ultimately helping others, admittedly through dark means?
Court is put into situations where he interacts with others who have the opportunity to assess his character, and most of them have huge character flaws of their own. I hope that there is some closure with the mob boss who hired Court. That dude needs to be dealt with.
I really like how Court has to get himself out of really tough situations using his training, skills and ingenuity to get out of nearly inescapable situations. Also how he makes tough, untenable choices. He knew what it meant when he decided to go against his commander's order. It was a tough decision that would make his life hell and things even worse for him than they were when everything started, but he made it anyway. He continues to do this through the rest of the book. Court is the kind of hero you root for to kick ass but also to save the day and to keep himself and others safe, even knowing he's an assassin (although I really like assassin heroes, so that's not an issue for me (as long as they aren't sociopathic or psychopathic monsters who enjoy hurting others).
The action scenes were very well written and cinematic. I felt like I was watching this on a movie screen. There weren't any cardboard character. Even the lesser developed characters still have some depth to them. His old commander, Hightower is an a***&%$%! And says some really racist stuff too. While the woman that Court helps annoyed me, I think that Greaney did show her growth in understanding of who Court was and what motivates him. Greaney gives a nuanced perspective on the situation in the Sudan and how it relates to the geopolitical current events with China and Russia (how they are exploiting Africa for resources, deliberately causing strife and destruction to facilitate this processes) , and not necessarily showing the Americans and the good guys who do the right things for the right reason.
I would have liked more closure on Court's health situation near the end of the book, but I have to assume that's all okay. I really hope he kicks the opioid addiction very soon.
This is a really excellent follow up to "The Gray Man." I already downloaded Ballistic so I can listen to it very soon.