Saturday, August 4, 2018

#Review - Orphan X (Orphan X #1) by Gregg Hurwitz #Thrillers

Series: Orphan X (#1)
Format: Hardcover, 368 pages
Release Date:  January 19, 2016
Publisher: Minotaur Books
Source: Publisher/NetGalley
Genre: Fiction / Thrillers / Crime

The Nowhere Man is a legendary figure spoken about only in whispers. It's said that when he's reached by the truly desperate and deserving, the Nowhere Man can and will do anything to protect and save them.

But he's no legend.

Evan Smoak is a man with skills, resources, and a personal mission to help those with nowhere else to turn. He's also a man with a dangerous past. Chosen as a child, he was raised and trained as part of the off-the-books black box Orphan program, designed to create the perfect deniable intelligence assets---i.e. assassins. He was Orphan X. Evan broke with the program, using everything he learned to disappear.

Now, however, someone is on his tail. Someone with similar skills and training. Someone who knows Orphan X. Someone who is getting closer and closer. And will exploit Evan's weakness---his work as The Nowhere Man---to find him and eliminate him. Grabbing the reader from the very first page, Orphan X is a masterful thriller, the first in Gregg Hurwitz's electrifying new series featuring Evan Smoak. 

Orphan X is the first installment in the Orphan X series by author Gregg Hurwitz. I was offered the chance by the publisher to read the first three installments in this series before the 4th book comes out in 2019. Obviously, I accepted the offer. The series follows a man by the name of Evan Smoak, who at the age of 12, was picked up by a man named Jack and trained to become one of a group called Orphans who are sent around the globe to complete specific missions. 

Smoak is called the Nowhere Man, the man thought to be an urban legend and not real. The man you call when you have nobody else to help you. He has been specially trained to be a highly successful assassin, but these days he uses his training to live under the radar, helping those in extreme and dire situations. The only payment he requires is that they 'pay it forward', so to speak, by finding someone else in need of Ethan’s specialized skills so that he can continue fulfilling his mission.  

Smoke lives by a few rules; assume nothing, master your surroundings, never make it personal, and always play offense. But, now someone has Evan in their sights and there is only one kind of person out there who could have located him- another Orphan. Not only has he been found, his ‘clients’ are being used as pawns to fish him out into the open. Evan has to face a man who has had the same kind of training as he did, and therefore, may be the most dangerous mission he's had to take in a very long time. 

While all this is going on, Evan keeps up a facade claiming to be an importer of industrial cleaning supplies. Evan 's fellow neighbors are a rag tag bunch of curious sorts. There is the condo board president (who calls lots of meetings); a nice Jewish lady (who complains a lot about her damaged door); and Assistant District Attorney Mia Hall and her little boy Peter (who takes to sending messages up to Evan's window via balloon). Although it might have seemed reasonable, there is no discernible romance in this story.  

I have to say that I was pleasantly surprised by this story. Evan's Fortress of Solitude is a reinforced, fortress-like, penthouse with all kinds of defensive countermeasures just in case. This includes: a parachute to jump off the apartment's terrace; rappelling equipment to climb down the building's wall; bullet proof windows; a door that can withstand explosives; a hidden back room with surveillance equipment. Evan even has a completely untraceable cell phone so desperate people can call him for assistance. Evan tries to stick to his code, but often times he struggles with doing the right thing. This makes him human, and not a super-being with lots of awesome powers. A nice change from my current crop of books read.

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