Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

Welcome a new player to the world of Jack Reacher and Jason Bourne 

Reading time: < 2 minutes –

orphan xSomething seems to draw me to Baltimore even when I don’t try. I can’t get enough of Laura Lippmann. And I’ll never be able to consume too much George Pelacanos. Both of those authors stay close to their hometown Baltimore throughout their books.

I picked up Orphan X knowing nothing about it, and where does it open? A Baltimore playground, of course. That’s where a kid is lifted from poverty and begins his transformation into Evan Smoak. And also, trained under the shrouded guidance of the U.S. military as Orphan X.

He becomes a government assassin, sent to kill tough enemies. Regardless, like robots taking over a factory, the advent of drones pushes Orphan X out of a job. For a trained assassin, Evan turns out to be a decent chap and decides he wants to help the world. He finds people who need some assistance and lends them a hand, all the while leaving his past … in the past. Or so he thinks.

Funny thing about assassins, they tend to make enemies. Evan is no different in that regard. He helps a woman who he thinks may be using him. The cat-and-mouse chase that follows is harrowing and exciting. You’ll get blisters on your fingers turning the pages so fast. This is a masterful thriller with a fantastic premise. For my reading, he carried on a smidge too long in the climactic fight scene – six entire pages, holy right hook, Batman! – and offered too much description with naming each maneuver. It came as no surprise that the first person he thanked in acknowledgements was his Sensei.

But those are minor flaws in an otherwise brilliant book. An added bonus: it’s already been optioned for a movie, so you can read the book before the movie comes out, something I LOVE to do. Double bonus: this is the first in a series, so there’s more Evan Smoak waiting in the wings. How often do you have a chance to get in on the ground floor with a super hero? Don’t miss your chance. You’ll thank me.

5 thoughts on “Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz

  1. Super heroes aren’t my thing – at least not those who don capes, spandex, or in this case, the high octane thriller. Having said that, the book does sound good! I get what you mean about going on too long with the fight scene. I had to consider I might be going on too long describing how my young protag climbed up into a tree (to save herself) during a flood. Sometimes we get into the weeds with the details. I’m pretty sure I cut that scene back – that one and the one about her trying to get her fire going. (this is the second book – not DIXIE. 🙂 )

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  2. That was me trying to be clever and calling him a “super hero” versus a superhero. He’s not a superhero in the comic book sense. He’s a super guy who becomes a hero to the people he helps. As is often the case, when I think I’m being clever, I’m actually doing just the opposite and obfuscating. But that’s why we blog right? Practice, practice, practice.

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    1. Ah, but you see…I got that. I just wanted to bring up spandex – but notice I then said, “or in this case, the high octane thriller.”

      It was clever. I wasn’t, so much. 😉


  3. This novel has been on my TBR list since Janet’s flash fiction comp of the same name… but after reading this post I’ve decided it needs to move closer to the top. As in, LOTS closer! I fell in love with Jason Bourne decades ago, and Jack Reacher a few years back, so if this is comparable in your opinion to both these characters, then Orphan X will definitely make my 2016 Goodreads challenge list! Thanks for the review!

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    1. At the risk of sounding blasphemous, I think you’ll like it better than Bourne and Reacher. But maybe that’s because I read it more recently than the others. Regardless, you’re going to love the read based on your history. Enjoy!


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