Reviews for The Chaos Agent

by Mark Greaney

Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Futuristic robots take center stage in the Gray Man’s latest bloody adventure. Courtland “the Gray Man” Gentry and Zoya Zakharova are lovers trying to enjoy a peaceful hideaway by Guatemala’s beautiful Lake Atitlán when a tiny drone with facial recognition capabilities tracks them down. A worldwide manhunt is underway for them, and Russia has a capture-or-kill order out on Zoya. For those just tuning in to the series, by the way, the twosome used to be mortal enemies. Now one of the planet’s most infamous killers for hire is after them, an evildoer named Scott Kincaid, aka Lancer. But on to the main plot: Multibillionaire Anton Hinton is building a lethal autonomous weapon driven by artificial intelligence. Strangely, over a 34-hour period, 10 people involved in AI and robotics have been murdered around the world. Hinton insists he’s just trying to bring some sanity into the world: With these machines engaging in any necessary fighting and doing so with perfect judgment, human wars could become a thing of the past. Wait a sec, just looking for the perfect cliche. Oh yes: What could possibly go wrong? Greaney, a terrific action writer, has jumped the shark (oops, another cliche; it won’t happen again, sorry) with a science fiction setup involving bomb-wielding hexacopters, rifle-wielding robot dogs, and a superintelligent creature named Cyrus who’s controlled by 800 IBM mainframe computers. So who will get control of this technology? China, maybe. Or, as series regular Zack Hightower says as he wipes his bloody nose, “America…. Fuck, yeah.” In a scene emblematic of the story’s chaos, Zoya lies in a dead man’s blood as the man’s left leg is hit, “and it snapped and shattered the bone there, bits of meat spraying in all directions.” And, in a contemplative moment with Zoya, Court says he just wants to be with her in peace, while he wonders if he’d “ever be able to stop killing motherfuckers who deserved to die.” Indeed, violence is the point of his life. Greaney could dial back the bloodletting a notch and still have an exciting story. Copyright © Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Publishers Weekly
(c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Greaney’s formulaic 13th outing for former CIA agent Courtland “Gray Man” Gentry (after Burner) finds the ex-spy lying low in Guatemala when he learns a ruthless contract killer is on his trail. As Greaney soon discovers, the assassin has been hired by criminal mastermind Cyrus to eliminate key military figures conducting research on weaponized AI so he can harness the software for his own nefarious ends. The chilling central question of who will win the race to integrate AI and weapons of mass destruction is the best feature of a novel that otherwise reads like subpar Tom Clancy or the hasty novelization of a CGI-heavy streaming series. While Greaney’s fans will get what they came for—nonstop action and long, fetishistic descriptions of weapons including rifle-mounted robot dogs—the plot feels slapdash and contrived. This military thriller is mediocre at best. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (Feb.)

Book list
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.

This is the thirteenth offering in Greaney's Gray Man series, and it's likely to burnish his reputation as a writer of top-line actioners. The lead is a former government agent who left under a cloud and now freelances for fat fees. He's assisted by his girlfriend, who is so beautiful she gives off light and can kill you dead while you're gawking at her, plus a handful of gnarly friends of shadowy provenance dotted around the world, who show up quick when he needs reinforcements. There are enough well-staged battle scenes here to shred the book's binding or crack the e-book screen, but Greaney weaves in a detective plotline that almost steals the show. The Gray Man is hired because somebody is murdering elite digerati working on AI and robotics. They've come together to declare that their product is not for sale to the military or corporations, and someone doesn't like that. There's even a kill list for a diabolical assassin. Now the Gray Man must fight off enemies flesh-and-blood and virtual.