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.
The Nowhere Man
by Gregg Hurwitz
Series: Evan Smoak #2
Published by Michael Joseph
on January 26th 2017
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
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.