Book review: The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

Tuesday, January 17, 2017 Permalink

Gregg Hurwitz’s 2016 novel, Orphan X made my seven favourite books of the year list. I loved it. I adored our protagonist – former assassin turned protector of the helpless, Evan Smoak (aka Orphan X, aka The Nowhere Man) – and enjoyed the unfolding plot focused around Evan’s backstory.

I was nervous about picking up the second in the series but needn’t have worried, as I raced through The Nowhere Man in a day.

Book review: The Nowhere Man by Gregg HurwitzThe Nowhere Man
by Gregg Hurwitz
Series: Orphan X #2
Published by Michael Joseph
on January 26th 2017
Source: NetGalley
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 0718181859
Pages: 400

He was once called Orphan X.

As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from a children's home, raised and trained as part of a secret government initiative buried so deep that virtually no one knows it exists. But he broke with the programme, choosing instead to vanish off grid and use his formidable skill set to help those unable to protect themselves.

One day, though, Evan's luck ran out . . .

Ambushed, drugged, and spirited away, Evan wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him. As he tries to piece together what's happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly trained guards for weaknesses, he receives a desperate call for help.

With time running out, he will need to out-think, out-manoeuvre, and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he's never encountered to have any chance of escape. He's got to save himself to protect those whose lives depend on him. Or die trying . . .

Interestingly we don’t spend much time with the eccentric cast of characters (from Evan’s apartment building) we met in the first book of the series. This disappointed me, but only towards the end when we came across them again and I was reminded how much I enjoyed the interaction.

Although this book kicks off with The Nowhere Man coming to the aid of a helpless young woman, the plot itself is one which involves Evan. Again. Although this is less about his shady past and more about him being unexpectedly targeted.

I was originally a little chagrined that it happened. I mean, if the other Orphans and his old black ops team can’t find him, how could THIS person track him down. However, what Hurwitz offers us is a riveting cat and mouse story in which we’re not sure who’s who. Evan’s held captive and attempts to outwit and overpower his opponent at every opportunity. Unfortunately his captor has many MANY resources at his fingertips. And he’s a sadistic freak… so it’s hard to compete with that.

Evan’s on a deadline however… there’s still someone out there needing his help and her time is running out. His too, as he knows how dispensable he is once his kidnapper has what he wants. And of course, he’s also got to consider his old foes in government. The ones who don’t exist. And who never existed. Just as he didn’t for so many years.

This novel is spectacularly well-paced. It starts with a bang and keeps going. It’d be easy for there to be a lull as Evan-in-captivity acts out and is thwarted in some way at every turn. But the action keeps coming. Metaphorically and literally.

I commented in my review of Orphan X on Hurwitz’s inclusion of A LOT of detail about fight scenes and weaponry and this is no different. Evan gets his MacGyver on, but those trying to prevent his escape keep coming, and there’s a fight scene or two that will have action-lovers salivating.

These novels are life and death. Serious stuff, and while Hurwitz doesn’t poke fun at our hero and his exploits, there’s an underlying tone of playfulness and irony.

There’d be no going Rambo in a bespoke shirt on an empty stomach with zero planning. Not in this weather. p 69

I hope I’m not giving anything away by sharing the fact that Evan survives this outing. (Oops sorry, spoiler alert!) As there’s already mention of more in the series, killing him off Game of Thrones style would be unrealistic, although coming back from the dead isn’t altogether out of the question in Orphan X’s world…

I continue to be a little in love with the nondescript unassuming man that is Evan. And already I cannot wait until I see him again.

The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz will be published by Michael Joseph (Penguin UK) on 26 January 2017, but is out in the US today. (And available in Australia on 31 January. Which gives you time to read Orphan X first, if you missed it!)

I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.


  • Stormi D Johnson
    January 17, 2017

    I really must get the first book, this sounds like a great series. I wish I could read a book in a day! 🙂

    • Debbish
      January 17, 2017

      I could have read it in a sitting Stormi but I had something to do mid-way through. I also broke my no-reading-during-the-day rule and started it in the afternoon.

  • Nise' (Under the Boardwalk)
    January 17, 2017

    Excellent review of a great book. Can’t wait to see how Evan helps the person that called at the end of the book!!!!

    • Debbish
      January 17, 2017

      I know. I have to admit I was a bit annoyed at that person’s presence as it seemed a little too fantastic (particularly not coming earlier). But I’m very intrigued.

  • Sue
    January 17, 2017

    I’m almost finished Orphan X and can’t wait to get on to the next one. I’m glad you reviewed this series, or I might never have found them.

    • Debbish
      January 17, 2017

      I’m glad you’re enjoying them Sue. You might enjoy some of Gregg Hurwitz’s other work as well. Not long now to wait for this second installment!

  • readingwritingandriesling
    January 17, 2017

    Do you need to have the first book to enjoy Deb?

    • Debbish
      January 17, 2017

      No Carol. You could read this as a standalone. There’s reference to Evan’s history throughout various parts of the book which gives you the context you need.

  • John R
    April 20, 2017

    Read the first book, Orphan X. It totally rocked! I’m now approaching the end of The Nowhere Man. Is it as good at Orphan X? Well, let’s say different. Good Evan Smoak action, but oddly different. I even thought I’d missed a chunk of story about Ch. 50-something. How did he…? Anyway, I ‘ll wait until I finish the story before I give a deeper opinion.

    • Debbish
      April 22, 2017

      I was a little disappointed that some of the players from Orphan X didn’t appear in the second book – it felt quite different, but I still enjoyed it. Wondering where Hurwitz will be with no. 3. Have been seeing some hints on his Instagram feed etc…

  • Annie alexander
    July 2, 2018

    How were M and candy killeed

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