Thursday, March 21, 2019

Book Review: Out of the Dark by Gregg Hurwitz (Orphan X #4)

Stars: 5 out of 5
Pros: Strong characters, fast paces action
Cons: My issues with the premise; violence
The Bottom Line:
The fight for his life
Finds Evan multi-tasking
A great fast-paced book

Target: The President

Anyone who has been reading the Orphan X thrillers from Gregg Hurwitz knows that Evan Smoak’s life has been building to a confrontation with President Bennett.  We get the confrontation with Out of the Dark, and it is the wild ride you’d expect for this series.

For those who haven’t met Evan yet, he was recruited as a twelve-year-old into a secret government program and trained to be an assassin.  He went rogue years ago and now uses his skills to help those who find themselves in impossible circumstances.  However, his past as part of the Orphan program has a way of coming back to complicate his life.

Evan’s first mission as a nineteen-year-old in 1997 sent him to an Eastern European country to take out a general who was going to make the region unstable.  Well, more unstable than it already was.  At the time, current President Bennett was just an undersecretary at the Department of Defense who was secretly in charge of the Orphan program.  At the time, Evan thought the mission went off without a hitch, but now he finds himself directly in President Bennett’s crosshairs.  What about that mission is so dangerous to President Bennett now?

This conflict is personal, and Evan knows that it will only end with one of the two men dead.  Therefore, Evan has to find a way to take out the most protected man in the world.  With President Blank sending Orphan A after Evan, he must gather information quickly and quietly.  Meanwhile, someone has called Evan’s phone requesting his help.  And that help is on a deadline as well.  Will Evan be able to juggle both missions and come out alive?

Given our current political environment, I was a little hesitant to read a book where the premise is taking out the President.  Now, let me be clear, the President in the book is in no way either our current President or any President we’ve had in my life time.  Not only is the name different, but the rest of the details of his life are different.  And it is very clear that he is a very bad man.  One thing I like about Evan is that he only goes after truly vile people, and the character in this book certainly qualifies.

So I set that aside and dove in.  I was quickly caught up in Evan’s drive to protect his life against overwhelming odds.  As you’d expect if you’ve read the earlier books in this series or any of Gregg’s other books, the pace is fast and the complications keep mounting until it looks like there is no way Evan will pull things off.  And yet he manages to do that in some creative ways.

One thing I have loved about this series is that Evan is much more complicated than he first appears.  On the surface, he is a man who has been trained as a killing machine, but he is looking for ways to shed that.  This conflict is fascinating to watch, and his journey takes some interesting twists here.  The book is peopled with other great characters, both new and returning.

Being a thriller, this book is definitely not one of the cozies I normally read.  Yes, there is some language, although not as much as you might expect.  However, the violence makes up for it.  This one especially seemed to be a bit more violent than the earlier books in the series, but that might just be because this book is freshest in my mind.  Just know this going in and you’ll be fine.

This book plays out from threads introduced in earlier books, most notably the previous book in the series.  However, it could easily be read as a standalone.  Yes, you won’t appreciate all of the nuances of events and characters, but everything you need to know is explained here without any spoilers.  Of course, since it will just make you want to read the earlier books, you might as well start there.

Despite my issues with the premise, I completely enjoyed Out of the Dark.  If you are a fan of fast-moving thrillers, you need to be reading this series.

Missing some of Evan’s adventures?  Here are the Orphan X thrillers in order.

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