Publisher: Michael Joseph (Paperback Edition – 5 February 2019)
Series: Orphan X (Book 4)
Length: 435 pages
My Rating: 4 out of 5 stars
The Orphan X series returns with a bang as thriller extraordinaire Gregg Hurwitz sets his long-running protagonist against his most dangerous opponent yet in this fun and exciting new novel.
Evan Smoak is an orphan in every way that matters. Taken from his foster home as a child and inducted into a top-secret espionage program, Evan was given a new name, Orphan X. The Orphans are the most lethal secret agents the United States ever produced, taking on missions around the world. But after years of killing and being lied to, Evan had enough and left the program. Now using his abilities to stay hidden, Evan has taken on a new identity, The Nowhere Man, a mysterious vigilante who helps people placed in terrible situations. While Evan is satisfied with his new life, there is one threat from his old life that he needs to kill. Unfortunately for Evan, that one man is now the President of the United States of America.
As the head of the Orphan program, Jonathan Bennett used the Orphans to promote his illegal and corrupt agendas around the world. Now that he has achieved his ambition to become President, to cover his tracks he has ordered the death of all the remaining Orphans, as well as the man who was the closest thing Evan had to a father. Now Orphan X is at the top of his hit list, and the only way to protect himself and the other orphans is to do the impossible and kill Bennett first.
Residing in the most impenetrable building in the world and with the full force of the Secret Service protecting him, Bennett looks to be untouchable, especially as he has unleashed the vengeful Orphan A to hunt Evan down. However, Orphan X has a plan and is determined to take everything from the President. Can Evan succeed? Why is Bennett so concerned with covering up the details of Orphan X’s first mission? One thing is for sure: all hell is about to break loose in Washington.
Hurwitz is a veteran author whose work mostly fits into the thriller and mystery genres. He has written a couple of series, including the young adult zombie series, The Rains Brothers, and the thriller-based Tim Rackley series. In addition, Hurwitz has also written a number of interesting sounding standalone books, including his debut novel, The Tower, as well as a number of comics for DC and Marvel, including Penguin: Pain and Prejudice, 19 issues of Batman: The Dark Knight and even a run on Marvel’s excellent 2004 The Punisher series. Aside from the two The Rains Brothers novels, Hurwitz’s main work in the last three years has been his Orphan X series. Out of the Dark is the fourth novel in this series and continues a number of storylines set out in the earlier books.
With the exception of some of his comics, I have not had the pleasure of reading any of Hurwitz’s previous books before, although several do sound very interesting; for example, his 2001 release, Minutes to Burn, has been recommended to me before due to its fun premise. However, upon hearing that the plot of this book was going to set an elite rogue operative against the President of the United States, I knew that I had to check this book out. Luckily my propensity for falling for and checking out books with amazing and out-there plot synopsis paid off once again, as I had a lot of fun reading this action-packed thriller.
After some bad experiences in the past, I am always a little apprehensive about coming into a series several books in, and Out of the Dark was no exception, especially as it was the fourth book in the series. However, Hurwitz does a fantastic job setting out the events leading up to this story, and I did not find myself lost in the slightest as I read this book. Therefore, I have no hesitation in recommending this book to readers who, like me, were intrigued by the intriguing story concept and want to start the series here.
The main story focuses on Orphan X’s and the President’s attempts to take each other out, and it results in a fast-paced and action-packed thrill ride, as the two sides unleash everything to win. This main storyline is split between several characters, including Orphan X, the President, the head of the President’s security detail and Orphan A. Hurwitz spends time exploring each of these characters’ backgrounds, personalities and motivations, allowing for a richer overall story rather than a typical all-action adventure. In addition to this main storyline, there is also a secondary storyline where Evan, as The Nowhere Man, helps out a person being targeted by a drug lord. I was a bit uncertain about the necessity of this second storyline, as I was quite enjoying the focus on assassinating the president. However, I did appreciate how this second storyline was used to convey Evan’s continued search for humanity and redemption after years as an assassin. Fans of the previous books in the Orphan X series will enjoy a number of inclusions thrown into Out of the Dark, including several characters from the previous books, a continuation of some storylines, and an opening scene that shows Evan’s first mission as Orphan X back in the 1990s. All of this comes together into an amazing and captivating story that is not only exciting, but which also has some emotional weight backing it up.
Hurwitz takes his plot focus of an elite agent targeting the President and really runs with it. The protection surrounding the President of the United States of America is legendary, both inside and outside of fiction. Therefore, the idea that one man can take him out is a crazy idea, especially as Hurwitz makes it clear the sheer amount of resources and firepower that the President’s security detail has on his side. Indeed, there are several comparisons made throughout the book, showcasing the Secret Service’s tools and resources, and then counterpointing it to the few resources the protagonist has access to. Despite this, at no point does the reader feel like Orphan X is the underdog, even with Orphan A and his less than savoury cohorts chasing after him. Indeed, as the book progresses, the President and his security get more and more nervous, especially as Evan makes his various moves. The protagonist’s overall plan for getting to the President is pretty clever, and I love how this storyline ended. This was an extremely fun story focus, and I was not disappointed by how Hurwitz showcased it.
It should go without saying that this book is chocked full of action, as there are a number of high-intensity scenes where the protagonist takes it to his opponents. Hurwitz can write a really good action sequence, and there were some really fun details throughout the book. The author really uses these scenes to show off what a badass Orphan X is, including an early scene where the protagonist tells several police officers exactly how he is going to take them out and then proceeds to beat the thus-prepared officers in what has to be the ultimate power play. These action scenes also show off what the Secret Service can do and how impressive their presidential security is. With plenty of explosions, gunfights, full-on assaults of strongholds and violent hand-to-hand combat sequences, there is plenty in this book for those readers who love a bit of action in their fiction.
Overall, Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz is an amazing read that I had an absolute blast with. Orphan X continues to reign supreme as one of modern thriller fiction’s most badass protagonists, as he takes on the whole Secret Service. This is an extremely exciting and clever read that also takes the time to dive into the emotional motivation of its characters. Out of the Dark is an absolutely stunning blast from Hurwitz and I loved this latest addition to the entertaining Orphan X series.