Publisher: Michael Joseph (Penguin)
Publication date: 26th January 2017 (UK)
Full marks for pure inventiveness in the face of adversity – the intense action scenes that rage throughout are impressive as hell, as are the strikingly mercenary characters who are baying for his blood. It’s got the most terrifically persistent pace, one that our Nowhere Man endures with unshakable tenacity.
The Nowhere Man is an unstoppable force, reducing everyone in his path to quivering wrecks as they underestimate his potential. Techniques involving data encryption, a secret armoury, escapist tricks to rival Houdini, and hand-to-hand combat are pretty remarkable to say the least, which is more than can be said for this loner’s wardrobe with its surplus supply of identical t-shirts and jeans, never altering regardless of the occasion.
His illusive past is one I immediately found intriguing as it was chipped away piece by piece. Originally introduced as Orphan X (Book one), aka Evan Smoak, chosen from a select group of children to be trained as assassins of any target their handler presented them with. Each child was labelled with a letter after the only identity they are known as – orphan – serving as a constant reminder of the programme that ‘adopted’ them.
Smoak has escaped the clutches of the program to create a new persona and put his extensive training to good use by helping the most vulnerable. All they have to do is call a mobile number known only by word of mouth from his interventions with previous victims who ‘pay it forward’. “Do you need my help?” is this only greeting before he embarks on a plan to neutralise unique brands of menace before they can damage any more lives. But the caller cannot begin to comprehend the lengths The Nowhere Man goes to in order to dispatch their problem.
Ironically he also has a target on his own back as the ‘orphan program’ must reclaim the loose cannon of one of their own. In the meantime it’s a case of people traffickers, drug barons, and sociopaths of the world beware – riddled with terminal resourcefulness and a spirit that is hard to break it is difficult to not become immersed in the punishing, multi-threaded world of The Nowhere Man.
Undeniably extreme and colossally escapist this highly animated, full-on action thriller ticks all the boxes and is kick-ass all the way. The expressive tattoos featured on the hands of a non-verbal brute that he used to visually indicate his glee or irritation was particularly well done – such perfectly ominous timing as his tattooed hand covers his mouth to speak volumes, without uttering a single word.
Although some incredulous exploits may defy even the most vivid imagination it’s a damned fine read nonetheless. I can easily understand why Warner Bros bought the film rights to Orphan X, a book I really must catch up on soon!!
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
IF YOU’VE READ ORPHAN X YOU’LL BE DYING TO READ THIS…
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 . . .
The Nowhere Man delivers another masterclass in hi-octane thriller writing.
It doesn’t get better than this.
(Courtesy of Amazon UK)
Gregg Hurwitz is the internationally bestselling author of I See You, We Know, and Or She Dies. His most recent thriller, You’re Next, was a Richard and Judy selection. A graduate of Harvard and Oxford Universities, he lives with his family in California, where he writes screenplays and comics, and produces for the blockbuster television hit V.