Got my hands on Gregg Hurwitz’s The Nowhere Man, the sequel to the outstanding Orphan X, at my local library. It was an adventure in itself – there was a long queue getting into the library early in the morning and I was praying nobody ahead of me is eyeing that book. I know, I know, I am nuts, but sometimes I like to play imaginary suspense games in my head. After mauling down a few able-bodied guys with my deadly moves, I got to the book. Hooyah!
Spoken about only in whispers, it is said that when the Nowhere Man is reached by the truly desperate, he can and will do anything to save them.
Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man.
Taken from a group home at twelve, Evan was raised and trained as part of the Orphan program, an off-the-books operation designed to create deniable intelligence assets—i.e. assassins. Evan was Orphan X. He broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear and reinvent himself as the Nowhere Man. But the new head of the Orphan program hasn’t forgotten about him and is using all of his assets—including the remaining Orphans—to track down and eliminate Smoak.
But this time, the attack comes from a different angle and Evan is caught unaware. Captured, drugged, and spirited off to a remote location, heavily guarded from all approaches. They think they have him trapped and helpless in a virtual cage but they don’t know who they’re dealing with—that they’ve trapped themselves inside that cage with one of the deadliest and most resourceful Orphans.
Hurwitz delivers another high-octane 12-cylinder dynamite of a read. Instead of regurgitating the same plot, he pushes the envelope by letting Smoak get captured. In this installment, we get to see Smoak’s mind working the angles to not only escape but to eliminate all the scumbags. Hurwitz writes action very well – the description is not bogged down by excruciating details, but yet it is visceral and the action plays very clearly in my mind. It was like a Jason Bourne-John Wick action movie is playing in my mind.
If I were to make a choice with regards to which book is better, all my chips will be on Orphan X. The Nowhere Man has a lot of far-fetched elements that threatened to take me out of the story. Right at the top of the heap is a megalomaniac villain with some crazy lair that feels like a page out of an Ian Fleming James Bond novel. There are some implausible moments in Orphan X but Hurwitz knows how to ground them in realism. It is a struggle getting the disparate elements to work cohesively here. Thankfully, the character is so compelling that I could look past the rough spots.
Bring on Part Three!