Hurwitz’s protagonist begins with the requisite tragic background as a kind of Orphan X, a child brought up and trained as a covert assassin. This Nowhere Man operates in the shadowy universe of black ops, eliminating targets deemed dangerous to the government.
In this, the second and final book in this short series, Into the Fire chronicles the efforts of this Nowhere Man to help a man whose life is in shambles and is being threatened by unknown forces.
In the vein of superheroes like The Avengers and lone wolf antiheroes like The Equalizer, Evan Smoak is a former assassin who had worked secretly to eliminate government targets. But he has now gone off the reservation and is trying to redeem himself by helping people who are in dire need through no fault of their own.
However, this hero is more than just a little over the top.
He is a truly incredible person, with unlimited funds available, and equipped with gadgets that even Q of the James Bond series would never have dreamed up.
In addition he had a retinue of incredibly capable hangers-on such as a hacker extraordinaire, an armorer/mechanic and others. Smoak, meanwhile, is first introduced as a cross between James Bond and Ethan Hunt (of the Mission Impossible series) on steroids.
In fairness it should be noted that Mr. Hurwitz, also author of The Prodigal Son, has an excellent command of the written word.
Also, I must add that the book does provide a continuous menu of titillating adventures, has unpredictable outcomes in several situations, as well as surprising and well-crafted villains. Thus, in spite of all his skills and resources, Smoak still finds himself fighting for his own survival.
Perhaps one of the most redeeming qualities of the book is in the struggle of the hapless target of these would-be assassins. He eventually discovers himself to be a worthwhile man, after his marriage collapsed following a miscarriage and he lost all confidence in himself. And he finally does recover his pride and reconnect with his wife. Fittingly, Smoak eventually decides to retire from these extracurricular activities.
Aficionados of the genre may find Into the Fire quite entertaining but I found it to have pacing problems.
At times I found the novel slowing down and faltering as Hurwitz descended into overly long descriptions that served little purpose or had nothing to do with the action. The introduction of the characters took an inordinate amount of time and space, three chapters actually, and I found the skills and gadgets of the protagonist overwhelmingly improbable and quite impossible to overlook.
Final rating: 3.5 out of 5 stars