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The Chaos Agent

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Member Reviews

I want to thank the author, publisher, and NetGalley for the chance to review an ARC of this work. I attest my review is original and unbiased.

This was my first opportunity to read a book in the Gray Man series by Mark Greaney. While I read a lot of different genres I was not aware of the character/series until I saw the movie on Netflix, which was full of action and adventure. When this book became available I requested it and was happy to read it.

The Chaos Agent is a fast-paced thriller that will keep you up late. The plot for this work is straight out of today's new headlines--the uneasiness and many concerns with the rapid escalation of AI or artificial intelligence, especially with military applications.. In several different countries over a matter of days a number of important scientists and academicians have been found dead and suspected to be murdered, and their only link is to their collaborative efforts on AI.

Intelligence suggests the assassin is one with the codename Lancer, an American with special forces training who now works as a contractor to the highest bidder. Caught in the crosshairs of these assassinations is the Gray Man and his Russian lover Zoya Zakharova, who become targets themselves.

The plot moves quickly as the Gray Man and Zoya try to find out who is behind the killings before more people are murdered. Their efforts lead to a harrowing encounter with a number of drones and robots that turn out to be very capable killing machines. Who is behind these AI weapons? Who controls them?

Chaos ensues, and the action is terrific. If you enjoy action-adventure thrillers you will want to add this to your reading list.

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Cross The Terminator with a Bond villain and you get The Chaos Agent, a thriller that paints a frightening reality of how AI in the wrong hands could cause a serious threat to the entire planet. Mark Greaney has delivered another captivating Gray Man novel that excites and terrifies in equal measure.

Deaths are piling up across the globe as the world's leading AI experts are being systematically targeted for assassination. Is it tech rivalry gone too far or something more sinister? AI, the new battlefield gamechanger, prompts a lethal race. The Gray Man, seeking peace in Central America along with Zoya Zakharova, can't hide forever. Offered a job by an old Russian acquaintance of Zoya’s, they decline but nonetheless find themselves in the crosshairs of autonomous killing machines. With enemies closing in, flight is no longer an option and realize they must confront the threat head on. Pulled into a fight they didn’t ask for, Court Gentry and Zoya must find another level to survive a remorseless enemy and save the world from certain machine-led annihilation.

In The Chaos Agent, Mark Greaney crafts a narrative that is not only a thrilling page-turner but also a thought-provoking exploration of the ethical tightrope walked by those wielding the power of AI. A timely look at the potentially dark underbelly of artificial intelligence, reflecting many people’s simultaneous fears and fascination with technological advancements. It explores the concept that even when intentions are good, unchecked technology can end up causing great harm. This novel serves as a cautionary tale to which humanity must pay attention. Or we might find ourselves in a real-life Skynet scenario.

Additionally, I’m impressed with the way Mark Greaney deftly evolves Court Gentry in this book. Despite his superhuman abilities, Gentry is shown to have “normal people” thoughts of being left alone to live his life, highlighting vulnerabilities and feelings not normally conjured when thinking of the Gray Man. And at the center of this is his relationship with Zoya and how he reacts to her being in danger. Showing that, at his core, Court is just a man who wants to settle down with the woman he loves.

But that doesn’t mean he’s gone soft. In fact, as the story hurtles toward a cliffhanger, it's clear that Gentry's evolution might lead him down a path where no holds are barred. A tantalizing prospect that leaves readers eagerly anticipating the next installment, poised on the edge of their seats for the Gray Man's next move in the dangerous dance of direct action and retribution.

Lastly, in homage to the major role artificial intelligence plays in Mark Greaney’s new book, The Chaos Agent, I’ve asked ChatGPT to write a final paragraph/blurb as my own little AI experiment. After entering a few instructions and parameters into the tool, this is the output:

Mark Greaney's electrifying thriller, The Chaos Agent, unleashes a relentless cascade of heart-pounding suspense as the world's top AI experts meet a chilling demise, unveiling a malevolent chess game played at breakneck speed. Greaney's masterful storytelling, infused with riveting plot twists, razor-sharp intrigue, and a relentless pace, cements his status as a virtuoso in the realm of espionage thrillers, delivering a tale that's as intellectually stimulating as it is exhilarating.

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I couldn't put this book down! It's a thrilling, fast-paced ride with some very intriguing characters. Just when you think you know where you are, you're not there anymore. Can't wait to read the next installment!

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note: this review appears in several daily newspapapers and magazines Alabama, Mississippi, North Carolina, et al
23 for the end of ’23 (with a nip at ’24)

By Tom Mayer

By the end of 2023 there will have been about 1 million new books published this year alone, the vast majority by authors we’ve never heard of and never will. The big names — King, Grisham, Hoover, even Pilkey with “Dog Man’s” loyal legion — grab the bulk of the attention … and why not? Dependable storylines, top-notch editing and deep discounts make for predictably good-reading weekends.

But what about the others similarly worthy of recognition and, more importantly, a place in your online cart? While I can’t diligently discuss the other 999,997 books that could paper your winter evenings, I can offer 23 for ’23 … with a bit of a cheat. First, this isn’t a “best-of 2023,” and the books I’ve reviewed throughout the year won’t be found here. Second, there are a couple of headline-catching names in the list because of their late publication date. And third, since it’s the end of the year, I’m going to reveal a few titles that you’ll want to mull over now, but won’t be available until the turn of the new year. Oh, and fourth, I’m going to end with a few older titles by a couple of literary giants that one praiseworthy publishing house, Blackstone Publishing, has seen fit to resurrect.

But that’s it for the caveats. Your 23 for ’23, picked, plucked and promoted by our editors follows, and in no particular order, though that in itself does seem to be a bit of a caveat. The list …

In review (books available now)

1. “The Sandbox” (The Sandbox Series Book 1) (Blackstone Publishing) by Brian Andrews and Jeff Wilson originally debuted on July 25 as a techno-thriller that “redefines the meaning of murder in the 21st century” which, of course, is code for a story delving deep into the world of artificial intelligence. Because it’s from Andrews and Wilson, we’ll throw in the Pentagon, a Green Beret, a female protagonist homicide detective with a gift for reading people and a story that’ll have you reading into the night. Watch a video from the Navy vet-authors on the publisher’s website at

2. “The Caretaker” (Doubleday) by Ron Rash. Simply, North Carolina Ron Rash’s work is not only worthy of a Pulitzer Prize, it would be a miscarriage of literary justice were he not to obtain that distinction before he puts down his pen for good. Case in point, 2023’s “The Caretaker,” a deceptively simple story set in 1951 Blowing Rock about a 16-year-old outcast, among others, who people this amazingly accurate, if fictional, place in the mountains of the Old North State.

3. “The Life and Times of Hanna Crafts” (Ecco) by Gregg Hemcimvich. There’s a reason this story was named a “most anticipated title” by myriad news outlets, the Associated Press, Lost Angeles Times and Washington Post among those. Like Rash’s novel, “The Life and Times of Hannah Crafts” is set in North Carolina, but here in 1857 and about a woman who escapes from a plantation. “The Bondwoman’s Narrative” was a success when published in 2002 by an unknown author. Professor Hemcimvich unravels the secret of that author’s identity more than a decade later.

4. “American Girl” (Blackstone Publishing) by Wendy Walker. In this well-drawn thriller, an autistic 17-year-old is involved in murder and small-town secrets that lead to a complexity of suspects and a dangerous denouement.

5. “Let Us Descend” (Scirbner) by Jesmyn Ward. An Oprah’s Book Club pick for 2023, the two-time National Book Winner Ward gifts us with a reimagining tale about American slavery and a journey from the rice fields of the Carolinas to the heart of a Louisiana sugar plantation.

6. “The Last Applicant” (Lake Union Publishing) by Rebecca Hanover. Hanover has won her own share of literary prizes and this contemporary novel about an admissions director of an exclusive Manhattan private school whose every boundary is tested by a woman determined to get her son into the city’s most prestigious class of … kindergarteners. Secrets not only abound, they unravel in this tautly told story.

7, 8. “The Aeronaut’s Windlass (The Cinder Spires) (Ace) by Jim Butcher is not a new book, but available again now in paperback to complement the next chapter of this steam-powered series with “The Olympian Affair (The Cinder Spires) (Ace). Excellent and magical world building is on display from this veteran author.

9. “Resurrection Walk” (Little, Brown and Company) by Michael Connelly. The author’s seventh Mickey Haller novel begins with Haller’s half-brother, Harry Bosch — himself the central character in a separate but connected Connelly series — acting as driver for The Lincoln Lawyer. Those who know both characters will not only find this … unusual … but downright disturbing. The surprises keep coming as Haller and Bosch take on the case of a woman on death row who was convicted of killing her husband, but just might be innocent.

10. “Good Girls Don’t Die” (Berkley) by Christina Henry. While I have a rule against reviewing dystopian literature, it was bent here because, one, Henry lulled me into the story that is only part dystopia and two, I really, really wanted to know how this story of total misdirection — where nothing is as it seems — would come out. Well done, Ms. Henry.

11. “Silent Calvary” (Crown) by Howell Raines. As if the pedigree of the author — Raines is a Pulitzer Prize-winning journalist — wasn’t enough, the subtitle would have brought me to this compellingly told, “submerged historical” tome: “How Union Soldiers from Alabama Helped Sherman Burn Atlanta — And Then Got Written Out of History.” A riveting tale about an unsung regiment of 2,066 Alabamian yeoman farmers includes one of those men from Raines’ own lineage.

To Reveal (books to consider now with selected reviews to come in 2024)

12. “Unbound” (Blackstone Publishing) by Christy Healy. A gender-bent reimagining of Beauty and the Beast with a double dose of Irish mythology and folklore. Destined to be a new classic.

13. “The Devil’s Daughter” (Blackstone Publishing) by Gordon Greisman. The author writes with screenwriter credentials in a tale that roams from vice-riddled Manhattan to tonier climes where lies and secrets cloud every aspect of a murder.

14. “Almost Surely Dead” (Mindy’s Book Studio) by Amina Akhtar. Part stalker, part ghost story, this fresh psychological thriller comes from the author of “Kismet” in a story about an extraordinarily ordinary life that turns from everyday life to a true crime podcast.

15. “The Chaos Agent” (Berkley) by Mark Greaney. Testing the Gray Man in this 13th installment of the series is the possibility of a tech company using artificial intelligence with real-world ambitions. Start here, or quickly tear through the first 12 books, because you’ve got a few weeks. “The Chaos Agent” (Gray Man 13) publishes in late February.

16. “The Lady in Glass and Other Stories” (Ace) by Anne Bishop. If you know anything at all about this master of fantasy, you know how privileged I was to get a glimpse of this collection of Bishop’s shorter works long before its Feb. 27, 2024, debut. Including two new stories written for the volume, and one with ties to earlier work, this book spans the author’s most cherished, fantastical worlds.

Vintage books with a fresh look

17-23. You might have noticed that several of the reviews in 1-16 skew heavily in favor of Blackstone Publishing. That’s for a good reason. Not only is Blackstone extremely selective in its literary repertoire, it produces extremely well-crafted hardcover books. Indeed, though I prefer e-books for reading, it is with this and a few other publishing houses (Lividian Publications is another example) that I suggest purchasing only the hard cover. To wit: the selected back works of two authors that Blackstone has given the royal treatment. All of the following books are beautifully bound with textured and foiled hard covers, homage jacket art and superior sewing. True treasures. Oh, and then there are the stories. …

… Including Don Winslow’s Neal Carey Mysteries. Blackstone began rolling out in August, books 1-5 of Winslow’s early works portraying a private eye filled with contradictions. Neal Carey hones his street smarts and owes his education to the Bank, an institution with a reputation for keeping its wealthy clients out of the messes they manage to work themselves into. A glimpse into this master writer’s early work is a perfect setup for what he has loudly hinted may be his last novel, and one set to publish in April. But more on that later in another review. All five of the Neal Carey books are available: “A Cool Breeze on the Underground,” “The Trail to Buddha’s Mirror,” “Way Down on the High Lonely,” “A Long Walk Up the Waterslide” and “While Drowning in the Desert.”

… Also including several stories from the late Michael Crichton (2008) writing as John Lange. Similarly and superiorly produced, Blackstone can claim the credit for reissuing these classic tales from the creator of “Jurassic Park” and “ER.” Beginning in July and running through early December, the publishing house released “Zero Cool,” “Easy Go,” “The Venom Business,” “Drug of Choice,” “Odds On” and “Scratch One” in a timely tribute to the author. A new introduction by Sherri Crichton enhances the offerings.

And for those of you keeping score, yes, with Crichton’s listings, my tally actually reaches 27, not 23. But since I was only able to get my hands on the five Winslow, but only two of the Crichton-Lange novels by press time, I’m sticking with 23. I told you I was going to cheat.

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Someone is killing the world’s leading experts on robotics and artificial intelligence. Is it a tech company trying to eliminate the competition or is it something even more sinister?

After all, artificial intelligence may be the deadliest battlefield gamechanger since the creation of gunpowder. The first nation to field weapons that can act at the speed of computer commands will rule the battlefield.

It’s an irresistible lure for most, but not for the Gray Man. His quest for a quiet life has led him to Central America where he and his lover, Zoya Zakharova, have assumed new identities. Eventually, they’re tracked down and offered a job by an old acquaintance of Zoya’s. He needs their help extracting a Russian scientist who is on the kill list. They reject the offer, but just being seen with him is enough to put assassins on their trail.

Now, they’re back on the run, but no matter which way they turn, it's clear that whoever's tracking them is always going to be one step ahead. Since flight’s no longer possible, fight is the only option left, and no one fights dirtier than the Gray Man.

Mark Greaney just keeps getting better and better, and thriller fans will love The Chaos Agent. Highly recommended. #TheChaosAgent #NetGalley #SaltMarshAuthorSeries

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Christmas came early! Thank you to NetGalley and Penguin Random House for the ARC for my honest opinion. Most likely if you are reading this book, you are already a fan of the series and for good reason. Even if some plot device seems so far fetched, so potentially dangerous and difficult that it is inhumanly possible, Greaney makes you pause with a “Well…maybe it *could* happen” because of Court Gentry. The Chaos Agent does NOT disappoint and the ending left me wanting more. This genre has potential to get old quick, but the Grey Man always feels fresh and invigorating and the Choas Agent holds up all the way through. 5 enthusiastic stars.

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The Chaos Agent is another action thriller by Mark Greaney with the Grey Man as its lead. This time out the enemy isn’t Russia or China or even Middle Eastern Terrorists — this time the enemy is Artificial Intelligence or AI. One of the reasons I like Greaney’s Grey Man Series is that he always imparts solid knowledge about topics of interest. I didn’t know the dangers involved with weaponized AI, and now that I do, I am frankly terrified.

We connect back with the Grey Man and Zoya, his Russian lover/partner, hiding from all the world’s governments (in the last installment the two escaped but must stay hidden indefinitely) in Central America. But when they learn that one by one the leaders in AI technology are being assassinated around the world, the Grey Man and Zoya (an ex-Russian agent) join with the CIA for a covert mission in Cuba to try to address the escalating disaster.

What does one do when the enemy is seemingly unbeatable due to the fact that it cannot be killed?

Truthfully, I prefer the Grey Man without his attention being shared with Zoya and her potential endangerment. But I don’t worry that this will be a long-term problem for the Grey Man given his lifestyle –or her’s for that matter. I loved the Cuban setting and that look into a country where time stood still. Given the sharp contrast between Cuba, where it seems to be 1950, and AI which is our unknown future, Greaney’s novel keeps you guessing and surprised over and over again.

How will the Grey Man deal with a world where one cannot proceed without being tracked? Where the enemy seems invincible and all-knowing? If anyone can deal with it, we can expect that to be the Grey Man. My rating 5 of 5.

This ARC title was provided by at no cost, and I am providing an unbiased review. The Chaos Agent will be published on February 20, 2024.

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The chaos agent by Mark Greaney

Every year I look forward to the beginning of new year because that always brings a new gray man book, this years being book 13! As I started it I couldn’t help but wonder if Mark Greaney found the same crossroads Robert Johnson did and that’s why every book continues to be better than the last one this far into a series. The chaos agent find court and zoya on the run from the events of burner and being hunted by drones and mercenaries when the top AI scientists in the world start being picked off one by one they find themselves wrapped up in the mission to find and eliminate the threat. I know I say this every year but this is the best gray man book yet. Zoya, Court, Zack, Sir Donald the gangs all here and without giving anything away to spoilers there’s sort of a James Bond feel to this one with tech billionaires and AI and an ending that will have you DYING for the next one to see where the story goes!! The chaos agent is a MUST READ for thriller fans, the Gray man remains one of my favorite characters in the genre because of the way Greaney always finds a way to make it feel like slipping into old comfortable slippers with that old familiarity yet it still feels so fresh and new, the Chaos agent hits shelves in February 2024

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1st of all, Thank you to NetGalley and Berkley Publishing for an early look at The Chaos Agent by Mark Greaney. Mark Greaney has become one of my favorite authors, and The Grey Man, one of my favorite series.

Court Gentry and Zoya find themselves in South America. Are they on vacation, or hiding from their enemies. Maybe a little of both. Zoya thinks Court is bored and wants back in the game, but weather true or not, the game is coming for them when an old Soviet relation of Zoya finds her and asks for her help.

While experts in the field of Automation and Artificial Intelligence are being murdered, someone or something has created the ultimate killing machines. Court finds himself in the scariest of predicaments when faced with autonomous drones and killer robots. Who is controlling them, and how can they be stopped?
Artificial Intelligence may be the next greatest invention in modern warfare since gunpowder, but can it be controlled, and what if it were to get into the wrong hands.

Another fantastic entry into The Grey Man series. There were some areas where it got slow early on when building the story line, but once the action starts, buckle up and hang on. Mark Greaney is a masterful storyteller. Cant wait for everyone to read this when it comes out Feb. 20th, 2024. You are going to want to get your Pre-Order in now!

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I received a free eARC copy of this book (“The Chaos Agent” by Mark Greaney) from Netgallery and I’m deeply grateful to them for allowing me to read this book in advance of its February 20, 2024 publication date. Of course a request for a review was hardly a burden.

This is the 13th edition of Greaney’s Gray Man series. And for full personal disclosure, I’ve read all 12 prior Gray Man books.

I remember in the Fall of 1987 when I was attending the US Army’s 96B (Military Intelligence Analyst) course at Ft Huachuca, AZ and reading for the first time Tom Clancy’s “The Hunt for Red October” and the controversy that was surrounding the book and its contents. For those who were aware of the advanced (even top secret) technologies and tactics found then in both the US and Soviet submarine fleets, Clancy had seemed in his book to have had a deep understanding of the then submarine warfare and had revealed a lot of it in the book. It was quite the hullabaloo and I believe this cutting edge understanding of our defence industries is what set Clancy on his successful writing career. Remember, Clancy in the beginning years of his writing career was an insurance agent and the overriding question was how he obtained the cutting edge insights on our country’s defence apparatus.

This book’s author was an acolyte, a collaborator of Clancy’s in his final 3 books written before his death and he continued several of Clancy’s series for several years after his death.

I write all of this as a precursor to this analysis: the contents of this book are eerily similar to how I felt reading The Hunt for Red October as a budding Intelligence Analyst back in 1987. It is a book about the incorporation of AI into military technology and tactics.

I’ve been out of Military Intelligence for many years now and I’m as confused and uncertain by AI as almost everyone else is. But the specificities of Greaney’s military AI technology detail as is developed in the book from beginning to end drives me to think Greaney’s, as many alluded to Clancy before him, had a lot of off the record disclosure of military doctrine and intelligence thinking.

The book kept me engaged from beginning to end and has now given me cause to meditate about the ramifications AI can have on military engagement. Think ‘The Terminator’ movie franchise series, especially the first two, on steroids.

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THE CHAOS AGENT is Mark Greaney’s newest installment in the Gray Man series and for true fans, some of our favorite characters appear and engage. Zoya Zakharova, Donald Fitzroy, Matt Hanley and my personal favorite, Zack Hightower, have decent roles to play in this high stakes thriller involving artificial intelligence and some version of a new world order. The Russians, Chinese, Cubans and miscellaneous nefarious players move in and out of the theater of operations, ruining Court’s efforts to retire, heal, or just spend time with Zoya in a restaurant. Greaney writes long, meaty books that fly by and this is no exception; and yes, I read it in one day and ignored everything else. Some things are annual rites of pleasure: Gray Man books are definitely in that category. This one suggests the rough outlines of the next and I am already planning for it. THE CHAOS AGENT is a joy to read. I received my copy from the publisher through NetGalley.

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I received this eARC from and providing an unbiased review.

This is the 13th book in the Gray Man series by this author, continuing the exploits of our MC, Court Gentry a.k.a. Sierra Six, as he eludes capture not only from the US agencies, but other world orders, mafias, et cetera. This time around, while trying to enjoy time together with his girl, Zoya, gets interrupted by someone from her past. Long story short, they are drawn into an event to keep anyone from allowing someone to use AI to arm the highest bidder.

I really like this character, and though having another story of his to read, it is starting to get a little old, as is our characters. The storyline is good, and very current to our times, so believable. If there are more books in this series, I would definitely read them, as I hate leaving an open ending, but am starting to think this MC needs retirement.

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This book, like all the other Court Gentry books, was amazing. It had a little bit of everything. Court and Zoya are on the run in Central America and avoiding being found is their life. They get discovered accidentally but need to use all their ingenuity to escape. Alongside this, any major innovator in AI is being assassinated. Gentry finds himself thrust into a world he wanted to leave behind. The story takes places in many great locations. My favorite which got the most of the story was Cuba. Court is against an enemy better and quicker than he is. A lot of action with a lot of familiar names from previous stories. I love how the book ended on a cliffhanger as I now get to read more of this world. Great book.

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Good basic premise, but overly complicated with too many characters,(each apparently requiring their own detailed storyline). Way too much unnecessary description (do we really need to know the wall colors of every room?). Would have benefited from a stronger hand by the editor. A well edited version would have been half as long, much tighter, and better paced. The last disappointment was the ending which is only a set up for the next novel in this series.. Now I remember why I thought The Gray Man movie was so trite and cliched.

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The worst Gray Man installment. A ludicrous plot, whose twist was obvious about 300 pages before any of the characters figured it out. The usual wooden prose creaks a lot more when the story is this dumb.

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For the first three-quarters of this book, I was all set to say it was the best book Greaney has published in years. The artificial-intelligence-that-can-take-over-the-world thing could have easily slid into cliche, but it didn't. The plotting was tight, the characters were well drawn, and the writing was solid.

Then I read the last quarter of the book and, oh my, did everything change.

To begin with, the ending was ... well, endless. Scenes droned on and on, one after another, with no apparent purpose other than to offer up a mindless, repetitive action narrative. When I finally slogged through all that to the end of the end of the book, the darn thing jumped the tracks entirely. I assume the final plot point was intended as a setup for the next book, but to call it a cliffhanger does a grave disservice to that otherwise meaningful term. The 'twist,' if you can call it that, was lame and silly, even insulting to readers. I hated it.

So... 5 stars for the first three-quarters, 1 star for the last quarter. And that's generous.

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The Gray Man is back big time with fantastic action sequences, relentless pacing, and splendid narrative that ties AI marvelously into the action with a cliffhanger that will leave you breathless.

Full review to be posted on

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