I LOVE Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X / Nowhere Man / Evan Smoak series. They’re a go-to read for me and I was surprised we’re up to number 7 already.
Of course it means – sorry #spoileralert – that Evan doesn’t obviously die at the end of book 6 as could have been expected given his penthouse exploded and he was blasted out of his shatterproof window.Dark Horse
by Gregg Hurwitz
Series: Orphan X #7
Published by Penguin
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
Aragon Urrea is a kingpin of a major drug-dealing operation in South Texas. He's also the patron of the local area - suppling employment in legitimate operations, providing help to the helpless, a rough justice to the downtrodden, and a future to a people normally with little hope. He's complicated - a not completely good man, who does bad things for often good reasons.
However, for all his money and power, he is helpless when one of the most vicious cartels kidnaps his innocent eighteen-year-old daughter, spiriting her away into the armoured complex that is their headquarters in Mexico. With no other way to rescue his daughter, he turns to The Nowhere Man.
Now not only must Evan figure out how to get into the impregnable fortress of a heavily armed, deeply paranoid cartel leader, but he must decide if he should help a very bad man - no matter how just the cause.
As has been the case in past novels, Hurwitz kicks off the story from another point-of-view and we’re introduced to an ‘unconventional’ businessman and his daughter. We learn Aragon is quite ruthless but weirdly generous and kind at the same time. And he’s devoted to his daughter Anjelina. I very much liked the fact Hurwitz has Aragon ponder the wrongs he’s committed in his life and worry about repercussions for his daughter. Not just because of enemies but because he realises he doesn’t deserve all of the blessings that have in fact been bestowed on him.
Hurwitz opens here with the kidnapping but then pauses to check-in on Evan, who we left at the end of book 6 in an exploding apartment. And Hurwitz offers a very Mission Impossible / James Bond type slo-mo scene in which he gets himself out of yet another perilous situation with only a few broken bones and injuries.
Evan also picks up where he left off with love interest (and neighbour) Mia and her son Peter and with the very delightful teenage Orphan program (black ops) drop-out, teenage genius and hacker Joey.
Evan’s pulled into Anjelica’s case even though he doesn’t agree with her father’s line of business. He sees her as an innocent however, so worthy of the Nowhere Man’s assistance.
Things get complicated as Evan (and Joey) look into Aragon’s business dealings as well as the cartel responsible for kidnapping Anjelica and work out a plan to get her back.
As usual Hurwitz includes an incredible amount of detail about everything. Action junkies or those interested in weaponry and combat will again salivate over the amount of specifics here. Hurwitz also includes innovative ways the baddies are smuggling drugs or making money via synthetic drugs as well as introducing electronic spyware and intricate hacking tools and the like.
As I’ve mentioned before, I tend to gloss over (skim) specifics but can still appreciate the nerdy level of detail others love.
In the background (to balance out the fast-paced action) Evan’s continuing to grapple with his increasing humanity. His extreme OCD and need for privacy offers challenges in his relationship with Joey as well as Mia and Peter.
I very much loved this Orphan X outing. Naturally things end with some uncertainty which sadly means another (entire) year’s wait to see what happens next.
Dark Horse by Gregg Hurwitz will be published by Penguin (Michael Joseph) in February 2022.
I received an electronic copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.