Member Reviews

What a great new series! Evan Smoak is a force to be reckoned with. This book engaged me from page one and kept me on a roller coaster ride throughout. Thanks to St. Martin’s Pess and to NetGalley for providing me with a galley in exchange for my honest opinion.

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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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What an AWESOME find this series was!! When I got the email offering the three books, I was intrigued but figured it'd read like every other good-guy-turned-killer-turned-good-guy-on-the-run thriller - which is to say that it would read well and quickly but not make much of a mark long-term. Was I ever wrong! Evan Smoak is an incredible protagonist and hero/anti-hero blend, but the books are about so much more than that - they're about what it means to live and what life is worth, full of kick-ass action to be sure but also of unbearable near-misses and poignant might-have-beens that round out the story and make Smoak one of the most real characters I've ever crossed paths with in this type of book.

In this first installment, we meet Evan and get a big chunk of his backstory - along with his current situation. He's the Nowhere Man, the person you call when you literally have nowhere else to turn. The action is thick on the ground, the characters are well-crafted and utter originals full of quirks and skills that seem impossible to embody yet somehow render them exceedingly believable. And secrets - holy cow are there secrets! There are more secrets wedged into these pages than one book should be able to hold within its covers, and each one is teased out with just the right amount of lead-in and open ends to keep you reading - and guessing - from the opening pages until the last.

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Wow this book is fantastic. I loved it from the very beginning all the way to the end. I could not put it down. Lots of action versus Evan learning to let other people into his life and learning to trust. Nicely balanced between the ordinary and the action. I can't wait to read the other books in the series.

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This book showed a lot of promise. There were parts that were really good. However, I just felt that the plot development was lacking.

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I am not a big fan of spy novels, however, this isn’t really a spy novel. Its about a government program that trains assassins. I was surprised by how fast it grips you, the action is crazy and the tension builds until the final sentence. What a ride!

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Review by 2shay..........

All of you bad boys of books, tv and movies, it’s time for you to move over...there’s a new kid in town! Evan Smoak.

If you think that the billy bada$$es you’ve already met are the top guns, you haven’t seen anything yet! Evan Smoak, it’s pronounced smoke, has it all. He has the skills needed to be a professional “assualter”, what the Orphans are called instead of assassins...you know, a rose by any other name...and the training to disappear like the smoke he took as a name. He’s been alone for a long time, sequestering himself inside his own fortress of solitude. He has neighbors. He knows everything about his neighbors, but they know little about him. They certainly don’t know any of his background or his profound need to help people in serious situations they can’t resolve on their own. Even he doesn’t know the deep trouble waiting for him on his next mission to help a woman trapped in a human trafficking ring.

In my opinion, Evan is very lonely. He’s been alone for so long that he doesn’t recognize the feeling, it’s just a vague uneasiness. I really like this character. I really like this author! This story is skillfully written, with details of Evans life before now being revealed a little at a time. There is a perfect balance between details of Evan before and Evan after.

Keep in mind that Evan is a sort of anti-hero. He helps those he can, but his methods are brutal. If you’re a fan of vigilante justice or karma you will love this book. I certainly did. So pick up a copy now and...

Enjoy!

ARC graciously provided by St. Martin’s Press and NetGalley for an honest and voluntary review.

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Just amazing!! One of the best spy/mystery thrillers I've read in awhile. I'm not sure how Mr. Hurwitz hasn't been on my radar before now, but I will definitely be reading more!

The tension in this story starts strong and continues building without a moment to slow down. Just when you have caught your breath, a new threat manifests. The characters are all non-typical and I enjoyed seeing our hero Evan struggle with following either his "commandments" or his morals. The conclusion was totally unexpected! Highly recommend for readers looking for a high-action, page turning thriller!

Thanks to Netgalley for the free copy in exchange for my honest review.

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Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz grabbed me from the very 1st page and I must say I had a hard time, really hard time putting this book down to do anything, eat, sleep, everything else fell to the side utilities I was done with this book! I had to take a break from reading the next book in this series until after writing my review, this my friends will have to do for a review as I want to get on to my next great read from Gregg Hurwitz! I highly recommend this book! Thank you Netgalley and the Publishers for allowing me to read this book!

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I received this from Netgalley for a review (which in no way influenced said review). I have to say I’m learning the spy thriller isn’t my genre. Don’t get me wrong. This book was very good and I enjoyed it but at the end of the day I knew it just wasn’t for me. In many ways this story is nothing new. It’s the 80s TV show, The Equalizer right down to the special black ops background which leads the point of view character (In this case Evan Smoak) to help victims of horrible crimes. In Evan’s case cross that with (as much as I hate to reference him) Card’s Ender’s Game and you’ll have Orphan X.

Evan is the ‘nowhere man.’ He helps people the police cannot and all he asks is that you give his number to one person who also needs saving. It opens with Morena, a young Hispanic girl comes to him with an ugly case of sexual slavery that she’s trying to save her younger sister from. From there, he’s introduced to his next case a woman who has racked up over 2 million in debt gambling in Vegas and they’re going to murder her father if she doesn’t pay up.

He takes the case even though he is suspicious about how his last case would have met this woman and how fast she did it. All too soon someone is trying to murder them.

Unsurprisingly it has roots in Evan’s past. Evan was an orphan and he was taken from a bad life and trained by his mentor /father figure to be the perfect spy/solider/assassin. He was designed to have no attachments but his mentor came to see him more as a son than a super soldier and wanted him to have some humanity. This might cause problems, especially in Evan’s high security condo with the single mom lawyer and her young son.

There’s plenty of action. It’s mostly very intelligent without you wanting to slap the characters for doing stupid crap. Yes there’s that eye rolling almost unbelievable action stuff that’s part and parcel of this genre. On the other hand I got pretty bored at the beginning with the endless descriptions of how cool his weapons, his armored up car/condo are and how amped up his clothing is and how cold the vodka is or how endless his bank account is. Also I figured it out why way before Evan did.

If you like the Jason Bourne, Jack Reacher style books, you’ll probably really enjoy this. I’m not sure I’d read more because it’s not my genre. That said, I did enjoy it so who knows.

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A well written book and series that I look forward to continuing. Evan Smoak was an orphan and brought into a program that trained young children to become the ultimate weapon. Evan becomes a professional assassin with a conscience. I highly recommend this book.
Thank you Netgalley, St Martin’s press and Minotaur books for an advanced copy in exchange for an honest review.

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4 A Human Mystery Stars
* * * * Spoiler Free
Every once in a while I am drawn to a mystery or thriller. I use to read them continually. When I had the opportunity to read Orphan X by Gregg Hurwitz, I grabbed it with both hands.

Picture young boys and girls who seem to have no possibility of a productive future. They are spotted and without their being aware of it, tested to see if they have the makings of someone special. They are taken from where they are and enrolled in a deep, dark secret government ops where they will learn how to kill and be untraceable allowing full deniability if need be.

Then think about a handler who takes Evan when 12 and feels a sense of mentoring...a need to instill rules and a moral code of some sort...a way to keep him human while turning him into a killing machine. This Evan grows up, becomes a man in this environment, becomes extremely proficient and is known as Orphan X.

Things change, though...a disturbance in the air and Evan decides in order to save himself, he must leave. He drops out of sight, becomes an indistinguishable figure; he is strong but not too muscular. He is a presence when he needs to be but mostly flies under the radar... and he has set up his housing to seem like one thing but is entirely something else.

Evan has found his calling from the aftermath of his other life. He knows there are others out there looking to end his life....so he has stayed in shape and has all of the tools needed. The one thing he figured out during this change of life was his ability to help others. He has become the underground Batman... and has his own protected bat-phone...If someone is in danger and at their last hope, they call 1-855-2-NOWHERE. He will answer, ask the same question and if the answer is correct, he will help the person. All the saved person needs to do is pay it forward, giving this number to someone in need like it was done for them...

I was captivated from the start and didn't stop until I was at the end. All of the in between was covered with details of what this man was, his past and the people out to destroy him.

If you like this type of read, there is news of a TV Series in the making...

It was first optioned prior to Orphan X‘s release with the rights to the books going to Warner Bros. in 2015. The interest was with Bradley Cooper starring. Recently the option ran out and was quickly picked up by Brad Weston’s Makeready landing the rights to the five book series with plans to adapt the thrillers into a TV series along with Justin Lin’s Perfect Storm Entertainment.

With all of this entertainment power on board, it shall be interesting to see how it all shakes out.

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I have read other books by Gregg Hurwitz and found them intiguing, even at times too intense to read at one sitting. But Orphan X takes suspense to a new level. We agonize with the protagonist, seeing how wounded he is psychologically, but at the same time, we marvel at the level of his training and professionalism as an assasin.
He is a younger version of "the equalizer," a character made famous in a 90s TV show.
He longs to do good, to atone for the bad things he must do. He never turns down someone who needs his help, even at great personal cost and risk. Evan is an avenging angel, denying himself the comfort of a real life but curious how that might feel. We want that life for him. The author has given him great appeal.
I love these books!

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I read this book in January 2016. when Net Galley offered the three books in the series. I jumped at the chance to read them.

Orphan X is the story about Evan who grew up in a "program’ This gave him the skills be able to fight and help people.
He is a loner and has no friends. I liked the building he lives in and the people who take him just like he is.

The action scenes are good and the writing superb. I have read several books by Hurwitz and he does not disappoint. Looking forward to reading the next two.

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(★★★½ rounded up)

**ARC provided by the author/publisher via NetGalley (Jul 2018)**

<i>Evan’s twelve-year-old body is stiff in the cushy passenger seat of the black sedan as he is driven in silence.</i>

BAM! Very first sentence of the Prologue and I’m hooked. Not because I’m prescient about the calibre of a book. Rather, my nerdy self delighted in the opening sentence delivering 4 of the Five Ws & providing immediate assurance about the writing to come.

Firstly, a small confession―I read ‘Orphan X’ shortly after its original release in 2016. But it was a hardcover edition (*someone* in the house is old-school). So when all 3 books in the Evan Smoak series appeared on NetGalley, I snatched them up. (Because hardcover.) But more importantly, it was an excellent opportunity to re-read the first 3 books prior to the upcoming release of book #4, ‘Out of the Dark’, in January 2019.

Secondly, take my rating of ‘Orphan X’ with a grain of salt. In fact, go ahead & add a star. It’s very rare that the first book in any series leaves me utterly gobsmacked & breathless at the end. Probably because certain things are intentionally held back & I sense the lack? Sure, the author’s gotta leave some surprises for future installments, but I haz questions *now*!

Thirdly, my thoughts after a re-read? Surprisingly, I had to warm up to Evan Smoak all over again. Also had to put up mental blinders re: brand-name bombs. (I may know what Sub-Zero is & signifies, but not so for everyone.) And as with my first read, I had a nagging sense of *something* during the first half of the book.

But folks, once the tension starts to ratchet up & the story takes off, you’d better be sitting somewhere comfy. I couldn’t turn the pages...erm, tap my screen...fast enough. Some bits may seem a bit OTT but c’mon, it’s pure escapist fun!

Another item of note are the snippets of humour, usually when Evan is in his ‘everyday man’ guise. Even in short scenes, Gregg Hurwitz manages to infuse personality into the minor characters appearing throughout the story.

I cut my teeth on the ‘Big 4’ consisting of Forsyth, le Carré, Ludlum and Clancy (Pendleton started too early for me). So I’m excited to find another author who can ‘pick up the torch’, if you will, for this genre and enliven it with a modern spin & writing style.

(Hint: I enjoyed the next book even more, probably bolstered by the in-between short story, ‘Buy a Bullet’. And knowing that Scott Brick narrated this book, I may consider the next re-read via audio.)

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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

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It was me, I quit on this book after not quite 100 pages. I am a big fan of the author but the certain particular vodka and this his garnished steak that he fixed himself at his own home yet he "garnished it".

I don't even know where that came from maybe his wife tried to help, ANYWAY get past that and it is pure Hurwitz like we have always lived! Great start here and lets' hope it can be maintained.

LOVED IT

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Evan Smoak is the Nowhere Man. As a child he was chosen to be part of the Orphan Project where he was government trained as an assassin. Eventually he wanted out after finding that some of the information he was given on the targets he was told to eliminate was not accurate. He reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, where he helped those who were truly desperate and out of options to get help. The only payment he required of those he helped, was for them to pass on his contact number to someone who was as desperate for help as they’d been. Things start to go wrong and Evan finds himself being hunted. Evan is a hero that has been compared to Lee Child’s Jack Reacher. This is a book that keeps your interest and is well worth reading particularly if you’re looking for an action packed read.

Thank you NetGalley for the opportunity to read the first three books in this series.

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Evan is a Super Hero to a select few. The only thing he asks is that they pass it on. I liked this character very much.
I thought this book was very readable. I would recommend it.

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Seriously could not put down. Was a very intriguing and had to know what would happen next. This has been a great series. You learn a little more about Evan I throw out the books. A lot of details as the story is told.

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