Holy mackerel! Believe the hype! This is one frigging page-turner! This is my second book in a row about a protagonist who possesses a “very particular set of skills, skills (he) has acquired over a very long career. Skills that make (him) a nightmare for (bad guys)” and this is a class act way sleeker than Derek Haas’ The Silver Bear.
The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It’s said that when he’s reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.
But he’s no legend.
Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He’s also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.
Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan’s weakness—his work as The Nowhere Man—to find him and eliminate him.
The story centres around the character Evan Smoak, which is not even his real name. He lives steadfastly by his commandments – #10 is “never let an innocent die”. But it is #9’s “always play offense” that will bring a world of hurt on scumbags in his way. Gregg Hurwitz’s prose moves like a speeding bullet gunning for your jugular and it doesn’t rest until a fountain of blood explodes from the fatal wound. From the disquieting opening where a boy begins his dramatic transformation, Orphan X rockets the reader on an exhilarating cat-and-mouse chase with a galore of twists and turns. The characters live and breathe on the page, even though they are not exhaustively developed. In a thriller you won’t want your characters’ back stories dragging the pace down to a literary crawl. Hurwitz knows the thriller genre like the back of his hand and he delivers in spades. Brilliantly conceived, amazingly plotted, the story moves like a summer tentpole action movie. It has some uber-sleek action scenes that will look visceral on the big screen and some super-cool world building scenes that will set it apart from the usual action thrillers. As I typed this I learned that Bradley Cooper’s production company has acquired the film rights and he will be in the lead role. OMG! I can totally see him in it.