Gregg Hurwitz’s Orphan X series is one of my favourites. I fell a little in love with former orphan-turned-assassin-turned-helper of the helpless, Evan Smoak, in the first book of the series. And this – number four – is probably my favourite since that first outing.
I’d usually grimace at a book blurb that talks about killing the president – my spy/espionage-loving days left back in the 1990s along with my spiral perms – but this book is less about conspiracy theories and government cover-ups and more about self-preservation and ‘doing the right thing’ delivered through clever well-paced action.
Naturally I was forced to read this in a sitting and finished the last page already eager for the next instalment.Out of the Dark
by Gregg Hurwitz
Series: Orphan X #4
Published by Michael Joseph
on February 5th 2019
Source: Penguin Random House Australia
Genres: Thriller / Suspense
ISBN: 071818548X, 9780718185497, 9780718185480
For President Jonathan Bennett, reaching the White House was the realisation of lifetime's ambition. He's leader of the free world and the most powerful man on earth. But public support for his administration is wearing thin. And if the truth about his rise to the top was exposed it would bury him.
As a boy, Evan Smoak was taken from his foster home and inducted into a top secret Cold War programme. Codenamed Orphan X, he was trained to become a lethal weapon, then despatched around the world to do whatever was required to keep his country safe. When Evan discovered the mission was rotten to the core he got out, using his skills to hide in plain sight while helping those left behind by mainstream justice.
But Evan knows about the President's dark past. And that's dangerous knowledge. To save himself and his country, Evan must ask himself one simple question: how do you kill the most well-protected man on earth? And, when he knows you're coming for him, how do you stay alive long enough to try? One thing is certain: a desperate call for help from another unfortunate in urgent need of Evan's protection isn't going to make it any easier ...
There are always a couple of cases in the Orphan X / Nowhere Man series. There’s the long-running backstory centred around Evan’s… well, backstory (how he was recruited into the Orphan black-ops program) and then there’s a case he takes on as The Nowhere Man, his number passed on by someone he’s helped to another person in need. And both cases were really strong here.
I’d kinda forgotten the specifics of the last book in the series, but long-story-short, the President is a baddie, so knocking him off is really no biggie and we’re on Evan’s side. Not only was the President integrally involved with the off-the-books Orphan program but he’s been getting rid of the remaining orphans one by one. So, here Evan’s really just acting in self-defence. Kinda.
Evan is almost smoked out early on here (hee hee, see what I did there: Smoak / smoke? Meh, whatevs!) but it seems he wants the President to know he’s coming after him.
There’s a strong support cast and Hurwitz introduces a Secret Service Agent who’s attempting to save the president’s life, and we again meet Orphan A who’s determined to rid the world of X permanently.
I was ecstatic to see the return (briefly) of Joey, the teenage wunderkind Orphan program dropout to whom Evan’s kind of an uncle/cousin… and I’m looking forward to seeing where their relationship goes (and seeing more of Joey in general as I adore her character). And of course potential love interest Mia and her son make an appearance.
We meet Trevon in the Nowhere Man case. He’s in his late 20s and intellectually challenged. He’s living independently though and trying to adhere to the rules his (obviously lovely) mother has set out for him. One of those is doing the right thing and when he inadvertently pisses off drug dealers in his night watchman job Trevon’s family is targeted.
I love the way Hurwitz has written Trevon. He’s inadvertently funny and very sweet. He’s portrayed really sympathetically and without guile so is an incredibly endearing character.
As usual the main plot plays out in a way that’s far from predictable. Hurwitz lets we readers into part of Evan’s plan but we’re not privy to it all so as surprised as everyone else at the twists and turns.
Hurwitz is really delivering consistently in this series… I worried for a while we were going to get too bogged down in the black ops side of things (as I said, I’m not really a fan of the government conspiracy stuff) but it’s well-balanced by the secondary plot and the characters themselves.
Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz will be published in Australia by Penguin Random House and released in early February (but already available in the US).
I received a copy of this book from the publisher for review purposes.