“I understand you think that,” Evan said. “And your track record has given you good reason to believe that you’re scary. You’ve got the look down. The manicured tough-guy beard. The handiwork carved into your skin. But I want you to do something. Look at me. Look at me closely. And ask yourself: Do I look scared?”
First of all: I. Loved. This. Book.
You may have seen my earlier reviews of Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X novels. Orphan X is Evan Smoak, formerly part of a top secret, very elite group of special agents for the US government. Recruited from orphanages and given new identities, trained for stealth and secrecy and lethality, they were the ultimate deniable weapons. But Evan managed to get free of the program, and now he lives a secret life. He lives in a secure penthouse in Los Angeles, but officially does not exist. As a kind of personal penance, he rescues people from impossible problems. When a job is done, he gives each rescuee a secret phone number. They are to find one – only one – other person who needs similar help, and give them the number. But now Evan feels he’s ready to start a new chapter. His next rescue will be his last.
It will also be the toughest he’s ever faced.
Max Merriweather, the client in Into the Fire, seems like an unlikely character to be involved in anything important. He’s a broken man, living a marginal life as a manual laborer. Once he had a marriage and hopes for the future, but it all fell apart on him.
Even his own family ignores him, leaves him out of things. So he was surprised when his cousin Grant, the golden boy of the family, entrusted him with an envelope. In the event of his death, Grant said, Max is to deliver that envelope to a certain reporter.
But events have made that impossible now.
So Max slips into a café to think about his problem. And there a young man sits down across from him and says he’s noticed he’s upset. And if he is, if he has an impossible problem, he knows someone who could help. So Max calls The Number, and Evan answers.
Ever have one of those days when you do one job, and it uncovers a bigger job that also needs doing, and that one reveals an even bigger one, and so on? This case is like that, only each problem involves bigger, more powerful criminals and greater dangers. And along the way, Evan somehow suffers a concussion, and so has to operate in such a way as not to hit his head again. Sleep would help, if he had any time for sleep.
Other readers may not respond to Into the Fire the way I did. This book seemed calculated to push all my personal buttons and elicit profoundly personal responses. I was terrified at some points, and my spirit soared at others. This book isn’t just about uncovering crime, it’s about people overcoming trauma, moving out of their comfort zones, and opening their hearts to risk-taking.
I give Into the Fire my highest recommendation. You should be aware of obscene language and intense, violent situations.