Nowhere Man goes into the fire

Book review by Sebastian Lim

Title: Into the Fire

Author: Gregg Hurwitz

Publisher: St Martin’s Paperbacks

ISBN: 9781250120465

Year Published: 2019

This is another unforgettable story of Orphan X aka Evan Smoak. Into the Fire is a scary good thriller. It redefines Evan’s life as The Nowhere Man and is a baptism of fire for him as he needs to fight several battles in his “last” assignment as The Nowhere Man to help the caller on his phone who asks for his help.

The story becomes a bleary-eyed adrenaline surge, thanks to Gregg Hurwitz’s perfect pacing, strong characterisation and non-stop action scenes.

As Orphan X of the series, Evan is a standout recruit of the government-created and then abandoned Orphan team, which sought to produce an elite group of special agents with superior set skills that are needed for the black assignments given out by the CIA.

Evan has almost settled all issues with those who had wished him dead while styling himself as The Nowhere Man – an anonymous individual who assists people in desperate need – using his wide skill sets.

As the story begins, Evan comes to grips with deciding what colour his next parachute will be. Then his world is turned upside down by the new assignment he’s accepted.

Grant Merriweather is a forensic accountant whose firm’s services are very much in demand by law enforcement, attorneys and those who can afford their hefty fees.

Unfortunately, Grant’s cousin, Max is regarded as a loser by everyone in the Merriweather family, including himself. He is an underachiever, a disappointment to almost all who become involved with him, despite his own best efforts at self-improvement, which only seem to make things worse.

Accordingly, Max is extremely ill-prepared for what happens after Grant is brutally murdered.Whoever committed this crime is now after Max, when Grant left him a thumb drive that contains damaging files on corruption. He is way outside of his limited field of expertise to deal with it.

A stranger then takes pity on him and gives him the phone number of someone who will help. Max calls the number and finds himself talking to Evan, who is himself in the middle of his own identity crisis.

Evan has decided that he is going to start putting his own life in order to live a normal life. He also plans to take one last case. And that turns out to be Max’s.

Evan quickly learns that Max’s problems are hydra-headed. Just when he thinks he has eliminated the danger to Max’s life, someone else pops up wanting to take out his client.

With some assistance from Joey, a fellow Orphan whom he has rescued earlier and who is an ace hacker, Evan discovers layers upon layers of corruption within the rapidly decaying city of Los Angeles. He’s up to doing whatever it takes to clean it up, at least emotionally.

But physically, Evan has sustained an injury that is life-threatening and keeps him from functioning at 100%.

This, however, doesn’t stop him from carrying out his mission though, and eventually, Max has acquired a lot more than having his life saved.

Hurwitz is one of the very few authors who can write a hard- hitting book and make the conclusion heartwarming.

With Into the Fire, it seemed as if Hurwitz appears to be wrapping up the series and bringing all things Evan Smoak to a close.

He did the next best thing by taking Evan back to ground zero. Orphan X finally found the answers he’d spent years searching for, but that doesn’t make him any safer. Especially when Evan’s life as The Nowhere Man piles on, forcing him to, for the first time, seriously consider stepping away from the action.

Then, in the final sentence, Hurwitz demonstrates that he is only getting his protagonist warmed up. Does this mean that there will be more Evan Smaok and more Orphan X?

Let’s hope The Nowhere Man’s phone will continue to ring.

Sebastian Lim is an experienced journalist and editor who now runs his own book review blog — The views expressed here are those of the writer and do not necessarily represent that of The Weekly-Echo.