You clearly can’t keep a good trained assassin down. And just to prove the point, Gregg Hurwitz brings Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, aka The Nowhere Man, back for his sixth go round in Prodigal Son. The question is what could be enough, besides boredom with the straight life, to bring Evan out of his retirement (forced by a President who does not want to see a loose cannon on the street). The answer, of course, is family.
Evan’s last mission before he went into retirement as the Nowhere Man, Into the Fire ended on a kind of cliffhanger, or at least an ambiguous note: a call to his Nowhere Man emergency number from someone claiming to be his mother. When Prodigal Son opens, Evan is studiously avoiding those calls which have kept coming. Meanwhile a guy called Andrew Duran, in deep debt and separated from his wife and child, finds himself witnessing a bizarre murder and on the run. When Evan finally reconnects with the woman claiming to be his mother the two stories intersect and he agrees to come out of retirement to help Duran. In doing so he ends up digging back into his past and putting himself in the crosshairs of the military industrial complex and a conspiracy involving deadly new drone technology.
Once again Hurwitz delivers over-the-top page turning action, full of well executed action scenes and some Bond-worthy villains. There is also the requisite technical techo-jargon on weapons and explosives like this:
The Kydex was tightly molded for retention, which could cause a striker-fire pistol like a Glock to go kaboom when seating the gun but worked beautifully for the 1911 with external grip and thumb safeties.
But Prodigal Son also has heart. As with previous entries in this series, a central theme in the novel is Evan slowly becoming more human through his connections to the people around him. This progression is super-charged by the addition of a not so angelic, long lost mother who gave him up for adoption as a baby and the reappearance of others from his years in an orphanage.
As always, Hurwitz gives a potted summary of Evan’s backstory and previous adventures early on for those who are joining the series at this point. But this is an ongoing series which pays to be read in order. So while Prodigal Son could easily be read as a stand alone, with a great back catalogue and another cliffhanger ending (this one almost literally so) it would be hard to stop at just one.