Books & Literature

Book Review: Orphan X Book 2: The Nowhere Man, by Gregg Hurwitz

In the second action-packed ‘Orphan X’ novel, Evan Smoak is kidnapped and put on auction for his greatest enemies to finally get revenge against him.

Gregg Hurwitz ups the intensity in the second instalment of his Orphan X action series. It seems impossible to top the first book but a more focused story keeps the tension significantly higher from the onset.

As a stand-alone sequel, there’s enough backstory included to help new readers catch up on the necessary bits without slowing down the pace. He doesn’t waste time with too much exposition however, finding a nice balance for both new and established followers of Orphan X.

Orphan X is Evan Smoak, an efficient killing machine raised and trained by a handler since he was taken from an orphanage at the age of 12. When the government’s black-ops ‘orphan’ program was shut down, Smoak went underground, freelancing to help those desperate enough contact him. With unlimited and untraceable resources at his fingertips, Smoak became known as The Nowhere Man, making powerful enemies across the globe.

Now there’s a new foe in town and Evan Smoak finds himself kidnapped and captive, soon to be auctioned off to the highest bidder from his long list of enemies. Old adversaries return alongside new opponents and they outnumber Smoak as he’s slowly worn down and outplayed at every turn. In the first book he relied on wit and muscle, but this time neither seems able to help.

Hurwitz has developed such a well-rounded character in Smoak, and established his skills as a survivor so resolutely that he doesn’t need to detail every fight scene or encounter. Sometimes, he effectively lets us draw conclusions from our own mind about the ferocity of Smoak’s punishment. This prevents the story getting bogged down in the details of too many one-on-one battles, and shines a spotlight on Hurwitz’ masterful characterisations.

Fleshing out Smoak’s character even further in The Nowhere Man, Hurwitz has placed him in a situation that forces him to struggle with his own identity, mortality, and place in the world. The cliff-hanger twist in the final scene of the first book, Orphan X, is also resolved to some extent, compounding Smoak’s inner struggle.

The Nowhere Man not only ups the ante for Orphan X, but the thrill ride for lovers of the spy or action genre. The meticulous research, the pacey writing, the first-rate characterisations and the twisting plot all combine into one hell of a good book.

Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Twitter: @StrtegicRetweet

Rating out of 10:  9

Distributed by: Penguin Australia
Release Date: January 2017
RRP: $39.99 hardback, $32.99 trade paperback, $12.99 eBook

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