Book Club: The Nowhere Man by Gregg Hurwitz

In 2016, author Greg Hurwitz introduced his character Evan Smoak to the world with Orphan X.

As a boy, Smoak was taken from a children’s home, raised and trained as part of a top-secret government programme buried so deep that virtually no one knew its existence. As part of this programme, he was sent out on missions that his government denied any knowledge of.

He was then known simply as Orphan X.

But then Smoak broke with the programme, choosing instead to go off-grid and use his formidable skill-set to help those unable to protect themselves. This is where the latest novel, The Nowhere Man picks up, and the action starts right from the first chapter; no long character introductions or scene settings.

Evan Smoak is a typical Hollywood James Bond-type character. He lives in a 650 m² apartment in Los Angeles that is heavily safeguarded, with a 40 m² hidden vault that serves as his armoury and ops centre. He is well trained, neither married nor in a relationship (his way of life has no space for entanglements), he has no family and he works on his own. Not only does Evan help those threatened by evil people, he must also watch his back against people from his Orphan X past who want to kill him.

The book is not just made up of situations where good people are saved and bad people are killed. Smoak gets ambushed, drugged, and spirited away. He wakes up in a locked room with no idea where he is or who has captured him. He has to piece together what has happened, testing his gilded prison and its highly-trained guards for weaknesses. And while he is doing this, he receives a desperate call for help.

With time running out, he needs to out-think, out-manoeuvre, and out-fight an opponent the likes of whom he has never encountered. He has to save himself to protect those whose lives depend on him. Or die trying…

If you like constant action, where the bad guys are always on the losing side, getting killed by the hero of the story, then this book is for you. The Nowhere Man is well written with a gripping story line that keeps you absorbed right to the last page, even though you know the hero will live through all the “Mission Impossible” situations so that a sequel can be written. To be honest though, I am actually a great fan of stories like these. I liked reading the book, just as I liked watching all the James Bond films.

Don’t expect a fresh story. Just enjoy the situations in which Evan Smoak find himself, and how he very cleverly deals with them.

R295, Penguin Random House

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