Orphan X (Evan Smoak) by Gregg Hurwitz
|Orphan X (Evan Smoak) by Gregg Hurwitz|
|Reviewer: Ani Johnson|
|Summary: An intelligent fast-paced thriller that takes the man-alone-against-powerfully-deadly-enemies memes to a whole, exciting new level. Jack Reacher move over a bit; there's a new hero to share the limelight.|
|Buy? Yes||Borrow? Yes|
|Pages: 400||Date: April 2016|
|Publisher: Michael Joseph|
|External links: Author's website|
Richard and Judy Book Club Autumn 2016
1-855-2-Nowhere is the number you can call when you're in danger. The only payment needed for a very violent but terminal solution is that you pass the number on to someone else in trouble. Evan Smoak, the man attached to the phone number, has been trained. A strategic thinker and total expert in the fields of espionage and killing, he was kidnapped as a pre-teen to take part in a covert programme. That was long ago though and now life is different. Normally everything runs like clockwork but one day that clock stops and a countdown of a different sort begins. Evan is Orphan X and Orphan X is himself in trouble.
American writer Gregg Hurwitz graduated from both Harvard and Oxford universities; having read Oprhan X I can well believe that. This well-loved author of thrillers and graphic novels has outdone himself this time with an intelligent, action packed adrenaline rush.
Evan is an instantly likeable hero. He's spent most of his life being trained to defend himself while killing others and, after certain events, has decided to use his skills for the good. Yes, what's not to love about our knight in shining… well... slightly tarnished armour? He's incredibly well disciplined and works under a code that's been drummed into him from an early age. Unfortunately this code ensures survival rather than life-fulfilling social interaction, as he discovers. However, he's willing to give the social interaction thing a try when sufficient enticement is put in front of him.
As you can imagine, when Evan's life comes unstuck, it unsticks big time. His equilibrium takes one heck of a shaking as he – and we – struggle to work out which way is up and what's gone wrong. There is much speed, blood and justified paranoia on top of the clever bit.
The clever bit? Most definitely! Gregg is either a man with a great capacity for research and its communication or a great blagger. Every piece of authentic-sounding gadgetry Evan uses (although quite minimal compared to James Bond), each escape gambit he employs, each reason Evan has for doing something comes with explanations that provide as many wow moments as the poor chap's struggle to reach the final page alive.
It's even cleverer when we pause for breath and realise that, although Gregg takes us away from the action from time to time, we never lose the pace. Even when we're taken back to episodes from Evan's childhood where it all began, the drip feeding of some vital jigsaw pieces slide into the momentum rather than slowing it down.
Gregg leaves the greatest shock and the greatest joy until the book's epilogue. The greatest shock… I'll leave that to you to discover. The greatest joy? It's a first-in-series! Hopefully there's time to recharge my pacemaker battery before the next instalment comes out. If not, I'm more than happy to take my chances.
(Thank you so much, the folks at Michael Joseph, for providing us with a copy for review.)
Further Reading: If you'd like some suggestions for loveable hero thrillers, then Make Me by Lee Child featuring the iconic Jack Reacher is right up there. If you prefer the slow burning but highly satisfying espionage thriller, we just as highly recommend Exposure by Helen Dunmore.
You can read more book reviews or buy Orphan X (Evan Smoak) by Gregg Hurwitz at Amazon.co.uk
You can read more book reviews or buy Orphan X (Evan Smoak) by Gregg Hurwitz at Amazon.com.
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