The Nowhere Man: An Orphan X Novel
I’ve been waiting for this one. 2016 saw the release of Gregg Hurwitz’s ORPHAN X, an unforgettable and unstoppable thriller --- in every sense of the word --- about a troubled but extremely talented young man named Evan Smoak. Evan, culled from a miserable existence in a foster home, was one of the children selected for the Orphan Program, which trained a covert group of assassins for use in a variety of theaters. He broke from the program before he could be eliminated and after siphoning off and hiding enough money to equal the gross revenues of several countries. He uses these funds to help those in need, hiding in plain sight until his phone rings, at which point he answers with one question: “Do you need my help?”
"The array of knowledge and talents that comprise [Hurwitz's] skill set is fully on display here, all but guaranteeing a long and successful history for this series and its primary character."
Intriguing? Absolutely. How can one resist? The answer is that one cannot, which brings us to THE NOWHERE MAN, the second installment of this brilliant series that meets and, yes, surpasses the expectations created by its predecessor. Those of you who otherwise eschew series fiction would do well to set aside any preconceptions you might have about this book, given that Hurwitz is a master --- one of the very few --- of the unexpected. The array of knowledge and talents that comprise his skill set is fully on display here, all but guaranteeing a long and successful history for this series and its primary character.
THE NOWHERE MAN begins with an example of Evan’s abilities as he effects the successful rescue of a young innocent while exacting a well-deserved measure of rough justice against a perpetrator. His mission is barely complete, though, before he gets another call requesting assistance, which provides a ticking clock of sorts that in turn resonates throughout most of the book. But one of Evan’s strengths is his ability to commit an occasional lapse or error and recover from it. This is what happens in THE NOWHERE MAN, where, despite his best efforts, he is, um, smoked out and finds himself held captive. The manner in which he is held, and the way he attempts (several times) to reverse engineer his way out of his predicament, takes up a good deal of the novel and gives the term “locked-room mystery” an entirely new and memorable meaning.
As this is occurring, Evan is ever cognizant of the innocent who needs rescuing. Time is running out. Worse, he is still being hunted by the task force that dismantled the Orphan program...and it is he who is at the top of the want list. Evan needs to escape to save himself before he can rescue anyone else. Whether or not he can do that will depend on assistance coming from a very unexpected source that may not arrive in time.
Gregg Hurwitz is a marvel. THE NOWHERE MAN not only gives the reader a 300-plus-page edge-of-the-seat read but also provides lists of 1) adult libations; 2) ordnance for the Apocalypse or just for the heck of it; 3) martial arts without all those icky rules that get in the way; and 4) fun facts about mushrooms that you’ll want to share with that neighbor who complains about your lawn. Despite the fact that THE NOWHERE MAN doesn’t contain any gratuitous sex, it’s perfect. And you’ll love it, even if it’s the only thriller you read this year.
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub on January 18, 2017