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Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz
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Orphan X

by Gregg Hurwitz

Series: Orphan X (1)

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4952929,645 (3.98)37
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Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz is a 2016 Minotaur publication.
Spare, but very potent thriller!

The Nowhere Man- He’s the guy you call when you are desperate- very desperate- life and death desperate- with no other recourse.
Some call him a legend…
Ethan Smoak was chosen as a child to be a part of a special ops mission. He’s been specially trained- as an assassin. 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 if forward, so to speak, by finding someone else in need of Ethan’s specialized skills so that he can continue fulfilling his mission.
However, someone has him in their sights- and there is only one kind of person out there who could have located Ethan- someone just like him. Not only has he been found, his ‘clients’ are being used as pawns to fish him out into the open…

I try not to judge a book by its cover- but sometimes I judge them by the title. For some reason, anytime this series popped up on my radar, I ignored it because the title made me think the book was probably a science fiction novel. I never bothered reading the synopsis or do any further research, I just made a presumption and went with it. Thankfully, the publisher sent out a promotional email about this series and this time, I didn’t dismiss it out of hand. As it turns out, this is a very compelling thriller, nothing even remotely close to SF or Dystopian, which are the two genres I am less likely to read. Yikes! Glad I discovered the truth, otherwise I’d have missed out on this awesome book!
Evan Smoak is a sort of like ‘The Equalizer’ on steroids. His training, unlike that of the other “Orphans”, left his deep seated moral code intact. He carries guilt and remorse with him everywhere, as well as his conscience. He’s one of the good guys, but don’t get on his bad side. His humanity is evident, but he still strictly adheres to the rules instilled within him by his handler- Jack- a man who was more like a father to him.
Still, Evan’s personality is muted, as he fiercely controls all his emotions. The secondary characters provide the dramatic dialogue, while Evan internalizes and reminds himself of how to respond to complex situations. There is no reliance on gimmicks, no slick polish or shine, the dialogue is sparse, to the point, without a lot of time spent on descriptive text. The story moves at an incredibly swift pace, formatted almost like long form vignettes. It was a unique presentation, for sure, but it also helped to create a tense, suspenseful atmosphere, adding just the right amount of poignancy to the story, which allowing me to fall under Ethan’s spell. I found myself cheering him on, developing a connection to him, caring about what may happen to him as he continues his lonely journey.

This book is nothing at all like what I expected and is very different from the thrillers I ordinarily read. That may be part of the attraction, I think, but, I am very impressed, so far, and can see myself becoming fully invested in the series the further it goes along.
4 stars ( )
  gpangel | Jul 23, 2018 |
Fast paced, quick read, leaving the reader looking for more, exactly what the first book of a series should be. I'm looking for the next installments so you can guess how I feel about this story. Fairly standard plot concerning the creation of government assassins, who unsurprisingly begin to fight among themselves due to incompetent management or just lack thereof. Characters are sympathetic and easily related to as our their motives. All told an enjoyable read. ( )
  dmclane | Jul 18, 2018 |
Holy Mackerel!! Loved it.

Truly a page turner on steroids. This was quite an exciting read. The Organ program and Evan Smoak were deliciously awesome. A uniquely crafted book by Gregg Hurwitz. It was literally like watching a movie, but better. Don't miss this series! ( )
  BenjaminThomas | Mar 16, 2018 |
I was in the mood for a good thriller and liked the synopsis of Hurwitz's Orphan X. This fast-paced story did deliver, but not quite as much as I'd expected. Hurwitz doles out Evan's backstory sparingly, which only makes readers want more. However, it is enough to wow you with the character's abilities and to make you want to hug the little boy he once was. As a result of his training, Evan really doesn't know how to play well with others. Actually, he doesn't know how to play with others at all, and we see this during his interactions with the other residents of the building in which he lives. There's the grumpy old lady who seems to lay in wait for him at the elevator so she can complain non-stop, but we normal folk would have problems with her, too. No, it's when Evan becomes acquainted with divorced lawyer Mia and her inquisitive eight-year-old son Peter that we see how much he has to fight against that long-ago training of his.

Where the soufflé fell for me was in the too-numerous-to-count fight scenes. Hurwitz wants us to know exactly how extensive Evan's hand-to-hand combat skills are, and each fight scene is laced with mixed martial art terms like "wing chan oblique kick." Over and over and over again. This is all well and good if you are a fan and want to be able to picture the fight in your mind, but I definitely do not fit that category. One movie scene comes to mind. Raiders of the Lost Ark. Indiana Jones is cornered in a bazaar by a sword-wielding showoff. Jones doesn't have time to wait for the nitwit to stop strutting his stuff, so he pulls out his gun and shoots him. Problem solved. Since this is the fight scene category I belong in, you can see where these minutely-described scenes in Orphan X made my eyes cross in boredom.

Since I have a feeling that these fight scenes will continue as the series progresses, I will leave Evan Smoak here in book one. But I am certainly glad that I made his acquaintance, and I wish him well. ( )
  cathyskye | Mar 12, 2018 |
My first Hurwitz experience and I was not overwhelmed. An off the books program trained Evan as an assassin and the plot revolves around killing him. Good idea. Then, he goes rogue. It just seemed to drag a bit. I'll give this one a "meh" and maybe go on to book #2. ( )
  buffalogr | Feb 20, 2018 |
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After picking up a set of pistol suppressors from a nine-fingered armorer in Las Vegas, Evan Smoak, headed for home in his Ford pickup, doing his best not to let the knife would distract him.
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Book description
'OUTSTANDING IN EVERY WAY' Lee Child *** 'Do you need my help?' It was the first question he asked. They called him when they had nowhere else to turn. As a boy Evan Smoak was taken from an orphanage. Raised and trained in a top secret programme, he was sent to bad places to do things the government denied ever happened. Then he broke with the programme, using what he'd learned to vanish. Now he helps the desperate and deserving. But someone's on his trail. Someone who knows his past and believes that the boy once known as Orphan X must die ...*** Praise for Orphan X: 'Read this book. You will thank me later' DAVID BALDACCI
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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.… (more)

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