Into the Fire: An Orphan X Novel

Image of Into the Fire: An Orphan X Novel
Author(s): 
Release Date: 
January 28, 2020
Publisher/Imprint: 
Minotaur Books
Pages: 
400
Reviewed by: 

“Gregg Hurwitz brings us yet another rambunctious action thriller veined with genuine humor and insight into solitude and isolation that entertains from cover to cover.”

Evan Smoak wants out.

Formerly known as Orphan X, an operative trained by a secret government program to carry out black ops assassinations, Evan left his Orphan identity behind to become The Nowhere Man, committed to helping desperate people with nowhere else to turn. But now, emotionally drained and searching for his true identity somewhere within what others consider normal life, he vows to take only one more assignment before calling it quits.

When someone dials 1-855-2-NOWHERE and Evan answers his RoamZone cell phone for the last time with his customary “Do you need my help?” he finds Max Merriweather at the other end of the line.

Max’s cousin Grant gave him a key to keep in case something happened to him, and when Grant is brutally murdered and the killer turns up in his apartment, Max reaches out to Evan for help. The key turns out to be a USB jump drive containing financial spreadsheets, and Grant’s killer, David “The Terror” Terzian, turns out to be only the beginning of a final case that Evan soon believes may never end.

Into the Fire is the fifth Orphan X thriller by Gregg Hurwitz, bestselling author of 16 other novels. While he holds a graduate degree in Shakespearean tragedy from Trinity College, Oxford, Hurwitz also understands the value of entertainment in action thrillers, and there’s no shortage in this one.

His plot turns out to be a set of nesting boxes. Evan succeeds in opening one to take care of The Terror only to find another box inside. He takes care of that one, only to be unpleasantly surprised by another. All while trying to deal with the lingering symptoms of a concussion and the overt hostility of his DA neighbor, Mia Hall.

Having constructed a story that moves with the relentless fury of an F-150 running down the side of a mountain with its brake lines cut, Hurwitz stuffs it with all the characters we’ve come to know and love throughout the series: Melinda Truong, the flirty, hardassed forger; Tommy the armorer (“My version of dress for success is two extra mags”); and Joey Morales, a young Orphan Program dropout whose hacking skills are second to none.

Once again we follow Evan to his penthouse lair in the Castle Heights Residential Tower with its Living Wall of herbs, its floating bed featuring electromagnetic-suspension technology, his stash of high-end vodka, and his war room accessed through a hidden panel in the shower.

However, its habitually Spartan neatness preys on his mind: “It was immensely comforting. And bereft of human warmth.” And because “Living outside the mainstream had left him ill-equipped for everyday interactions,” Evan tries to convince himself he’s made the right decision to retire The Nowhere Man and join the rest of humanity on their terms.

Through all the mayhem that the Merriweather case rains down on his concussed head, he wonders about himself: “If a man moves through the night and no one sees him, does he really exist?”

Into the Fire has something for everyone. We learn, for example, that plastic straws are not only an environmental threat but could also be considered a prohibited weapon in certain hands. We learn that an electromagnetic-suspension bed and steel-shanked boots are an unfortunate combination. We learn that Rhodesian ridgeback pups make excellent companions (the author has two). And CLIX vodka, when garnished with a single basil leaf from the Living Wall and sipped attentively, conveys notes of white pepper, cinnamon, and vanilla.

While the concluding lines of the novel suggest that we may not have seen the last of Evan Smoak after all, we can at least be thankful that he tumbled Out of the Dark and Into the Fire for our current reading pleasure.

In a world desperately seeking respite from the chaos of contemporary reality, Gregg Hurwitz brings us yet another rambunctious action thriller veined with genuine humor and insight into solitude and isolation that entertains from cover to cover.