Monday, February 18, 2019

Book Review: "Out of the Dark" by Gregg Hurwitz

"There are no good guys. There are no bad guys. There's only what needs to be done."

Nobody writes thrillers like Gregg Hurwitz, particularly his Orphan X series. What an incredible group of books, full of pulse-quickening suspense, whip-cracking action, and at their heart, a flawed yet amazingly appealing protagonist. Like Dexter or other anti-heroes, Evan Smoak is someone you root for wholeheartedly even if you're troubled by what actions he must take.

When Evan was 12 years old, he was taken from a group home and trained to become part of the Orphan program, a deep-deep-cover operation that created intelligence assets for the U.S., assets that could be used to create all kinds of mayhem—and become assassins. Evan spent a number of years following orders across the globe as Orphan X, but after a while, he decided he needed to be free of the program.

Evan reinvented himself as the Nowhere Man, the person people turn to when they have no hope left. Evan helps one person at a time, often putting himself at great risk, but the missions give him purpose, and helping others makes him feel like he's making amends for his past sins in some way.

Although the Orphan program was discontinued a number of years ago, someone deep within the U.S. government has made it their mission to kill all of the remaining Orphans and their handlers. Evan knows he is a prime target of this person, so he has to figure out a way to strike first, to not let this person destroy all of the evidence of the chaos he had the Orphans sow. His formidable enemy? The President of the United States, who had the Orphans, particularly Evan, create chaos that was beneficial to him.

The President knows Evan is on to him, and figures the only way to catch an Orphan is with another Orphan—Orphan A, the very first Orphan the program created, and one of the deadliest. Evan must devise a plan to take down the President before he can destroy all of the evidence of his past misdeeds, but this is the biggest challenge he's ever faced—and perhaps the most dangerous.

There's a lot going on in Out of the Dark, the fourth installment of Hurwitz's Orphan X series, and it's definitely one of the best. In addition to Evan's plan to assassinate the President, which requires more intelligence, firepower, and sheer chutzpah than even he may have, as the Nowhere Man, he also has to help someone out of a desperate, dangerous situation. At the same time, he also must confront the reality that who he is, what he has done, and what he is trained to do are not the ingredients for a "normal" life, no matter how desperate he may crave some normalcy.

Evan Smoak is one of my favorite characters of late. He's smart and dangerous, although principled, and he really has a good heart despite not always knowing how to handle his feelings. I love how Hurwitz balances his strength, intelligence, and potential danger with his more vulnerable side. But for the most part, this is a book with a tremendous amount of action and suspense. It's amazing to watch Evan face off with other Orphans.

Although this is the fourth book in the series, you could start by reading Out of the Dark if you don't want to read the series in order, as Hurwitz gives you enough information for things to make sense. But this is one of the strongest series out there over the last few years, so it definitely will be worth your while to read all of them when you can.

It's a mark of how terrific this book is—and how nice it was to have a holiday Monday—that I read the entire 400-page book today. I just couldn't get enough.

NetGalley and Minotaur Books provided me an advance copy of the book in exchange for an unbiased review. Thanks for making this available!

No comments:

Post a Comment