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Agent in Place by Mark Greaney. Berkley 2018. 507 pp.

Court Gentry, also known as the Gray Man, is an assassin who works for the U.S. Government. He is a good man, although that may be an oxymoron. He is in Paris on an assignment, which he completes, when he meets a woman, Bianca, who is in a seemingly impossible situation.

Bianca is the mistress of Syrian dictator Ahmed Azzam, a cruel and ruthless man, and they have a seven month old boy. She wants to escape from Syria and Ahmed, but their son is still in Syria and heavily guarded,  and Ahmed would not hesitate to kill the boy or Bianca if it were in his best interest.

This is not Court’s problem, but he agrees to try to do what appears to be impossible and rescue her son.

This book is a page turner from the very beginning and the Gray Man is unstoppable. There also is so much about Syria and all the fighting factions in the country that make it so dangerous and unstable. Definitely a great read.

            – C.M.

Night Blind by Ragnar Jonasson. St. Martin’s Press 2015. 2l3 pp

This is a gripping murder mystery that takes place in the small town of Siglufjordur on the northern coast of Iceland, close to the Arctic Circle.  Ari Thor, a policeman who is recovering from the flu, receives an early morning call from the police inspector’s wife. She is very distressed because her husband had not come home that night. Dragging himself from bed, Ari Thor takes his car to search the streets of the town. At a remote spot near an empty house he sees a parked police car, and lying on the ground nearby is the inspector, Herjolfur. He has been shot.

This is a shock to the town, and for the country too, for Iceland is considered one of the safest places on earth. Tomas, who was the former inspector in Siglufjordur, and is now at a new post in Reykjavik, returns to help Ari in the investigation. The two were friends.

It seems as if there is a scarcity of suspects in this situation but the plot is very complex. Some other characters are the mayor Gunnar Gunnarsson and his assistant Elon, Addi Gunnark, who has a dubious background, and Otto Nielsson, the town councilor. Also, the reader will be puzzled by pages written in italics interspersed throughout the book. These are the thoughts of a man in a psychiatric ward. And always in the background is the bitter chill of winter and the forbidding mountains nearby. The revelation of the killer’s identity was a shock to me.

Ragnar Jonasson is both an attorney and an author. This is his first book to be translated from Icelandic into English. He lives in Reykjavik.

– P.M.

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