The Gray Man returns in Mark Greaney’s new thriller ‘Burner’

The Gray Man returns in Mark Greaney’s new thriller ‘Burner’
Updated: Mar. 3, 2023 at 4:00 PM EST
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WILMINGTON, N.C. (WECT) - Courtland Gentry is back for his twelfth adventure. His creator, New York Times Best-Selling author Mark Greaney, has released Burner, the latest in the series of thrillers featuring Gentry, also known as The Gray Man. The former CIA operative finds himself tangled in a mission between the Russian mob and higher-ups in US intelligence, with a small circle of individuals he can trust. Greaney uses the current Russian invasion of Ukraine as part of the story.

“I was already starting a book about Russia laundering money through Switzerland,” Greaney said from his home in Tennessee. “Then the war in Ukraine broke out last February, and I spent last spring and summer trying to integrate that into the story. It’s not a war novel. It’s an espionage novel. Not one page takes place inside Ukraine. But the Kremlin’s dealings around the world is at the backdrop of it. So I spent last spring and summer trying to figure out where the world would be next February and writing a book about it.”

Greaney puts Gentry’s former love interest and fellow asset Zoya Zakharova in a desperate situation as the story begins. While Gentry is striking back against high-level Russian targets and searching for her, Zoya has bottomed out since they separated. “Anthem”, as she is known, ends up taking an assignment that will ultimately reunite the couple and put them on the same side once again. But the personal and professional suffering encountered along the way makes Burner one of Greaney’s best efforts.

Greaney shared the news that there are plans to make a second movie featuring The Gray Man. Actor Ryan Gosling took on the role of Court Gentry in the 2022 Netflix production, which also starred Chris Evans, Billy Bob Thornton and Ana de Armas. The Russo Brothers-directed film was adapted from Greaney’s 2009 debut thriller and came in with a pricetag of around $200 million.

“Officially, I had no input whatsoever,” Greaney says. “But I became friendly with the directors, and they had me come out when they were working on the first draft of the screenplay. We talked for a couple days in Hollywood about what we’d like to see in the story, and then I kind of went away. This thing has been in Hollywood since 2009, and it finally came out in 2022. So, I really didn’t believe it was going to happen, even though there were big directors and big actors attached to it.”

Along with the twelve novels in The Gray Man series, Greaney also wrote several thrillers featuring another well-known character, Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan. He collaborated with the legendary author on three books, starting with 2012′s Locked On.

“I only had two paperbacks out when my publisher, who was also Clancy’s publisher, said, ‘He’s looking for a new co-author, you want to talk to him?’,” Greaney remembered. “I actually tried out. I was such a Clancy fan. The first thriller ever bought my life was Patriot Games, which is a Clancy novel, I think I was 19 and just fell in love with the genre through Clancy. So, when I finally got this opportunity it felt like way too big for me like I didn’t feel ready for it at all.”

Greaney said he made the trip to Baltimore to meet with the veteran author and got the job. They collaborated on Locked On, Threat Vector and Command Authority before Clancy passed away in 2013. Greaney said Clancy’s family immediately asked him to continue writing for the Jack Ryan series. He wrote four other books, ending with the 2016 release True Faith and Allegiance.

“I felt like I was the right guy for the job and intimidated as I was to work with Clancy at the very beginning, three books in, I would have been really upset if they asked someone else to do it,” Greaney says. “I felt strongly that the Jack Ryan story should continue. I remember going on that first book tour after Clancy died, and expecting I was going to get a lot of negativity from some people that didn’t think I should do it. And it was exactly the opposite. People would just line up to tell me, ‘Thanks for continuing these characters because we’ve been invested in them for 30 years and we want to keep being invested in them’. So, I learned a lot about human nature in a good way.”

Mark Greaney’s new thriller Burner is available for download and is also being sold in bookstores and online.