When I read “new to me” authors like Mark Greaney, I research their background to see who their following is and what kinds of books they have written. After learning this author is considered one of the best thriller/action authors around, I was so excited to dig into Armored. Greaney is best known for his Gray Man series, which is being made into a movie, and continuing Tom Clancy’s Jack Ryan series. Armored introduces us to Joshua Duffy, a father of two and a Close Projection Agent (bodyguard) and former elite soldier. While on duty in Lebanon, his principal comes under attack and while his principal doesn’t make it, Duffy is able to get the principal’s wife out alive, though he loses his lower left leg.
We move forward a few years and revisit Duffy, who is now struggling to find work with his disability. Though he has a full-time job as a mall cop, he and his dynamic wife, Nikki, a former Blackhawk pilot, are struggling to make ends meet with two young children. When he runs into a former colleague, Mike Gordon, Gordon tells him about a job he is about to embark on with Armored Saints, a security agency with a terrible reputation for not dishonesty and not protecting their employees. Though Duffy knows their reputation, he convinces Gordon to put in a word for him, knowing the money will be too good to pass up. The job will work security for a UN delegation for a meeting with Mexican cartel leaders. Duffy, desperate for money and purpose, begs for an interview. When he is hired on the spot as a Team Lead, he knows he has bitten off more than he can chew. There is very little about the three-week excursion that will end positively. But he is out of shape and down a leg, which makes him even more vulnerable. Only one day into Mexico, and they are already under attack and in serious trouble.
Armored has it all: constant action, interesting characters, funny moments, and a high body count. The characters are well developed and you begin to notice a common theme among them; they are all misfits. Every man, handpicked by Armored Saints, has a strike against them, similar to Duffy losing his leg. A bevy of alcoholics, bullies, and men who are deemed “unhireable”. While I have not read the Gray Man series, I understand it is like Armored, with tons of action, red herrings, and dead bodies. Josh’s wife, Nichole, is also a badass, and she becomes an indomitable character in this novel. Armored is told from two points of view; Nichole back in Virginia and Duffy in Mexico. When it becomes clear to Nichole that Josh is way over his head, she wants to save him.
There are so many things I enjoyed about this book. I loved the cast of misfits on Duffy’s team; they are clearly out of their league but have so much heart. I also enjoyed Nichole’s devotion and support to her husband, especially in the last scenes. There is big action throughout, never stopping. And their sheer will to survive is admirable. I would love to see more of this team in another book, with Duffy as the lead.