Reviewed in the United States on January 29, 2019
Evan Smoak has been known as Orphan X and the Nowhere Man. As Orphan X, he has “killed generals, foreign ministers, captains of industry” to name a few. He was the best in a program that produced only the best. Orphan X has been hunted for three books now, at first, he didn’t know why, but as he was able to put the pieces together, he realized someone is erasing the Orphan program and disposing of all the orphans. Some have walked away from their life as word class assassins and have tried to create a normal life, some have even built themselves a family. Realizing that these orders are coming from the very top of the Government structure, Out of the Dark sees Evan transition from the hunted to the hunter.
As the Nowhere Man, Evan helps people in desperate need, grasping for a lifeline before they went under for good. Reaching him on his durable RoamZone, each client he helps is tasked with finding someone like themselves that needs the Nowhere man, the phone number 1-855-2-NOWHERE. In Out of the Dark, the mission is a brutal one. When Evan gets that call on his RoamZone, he is immediately forced to break the Seventh Commandment, continuing with the ultimate Nowhere Man mission, perhaps the biggest solo mission in history and helping his new client. The action is nonstop, the intensity continuously climbing. With Evan, nothing is as it seems, when you think he’s cornered, when you can’t possibly imagine how he will get out of the situation, he surprises you and his adversary, but before he does. He asks them; “Look into my eyes. And ask yourself: Do I look scared?”
The new client, Trevon Gaines also lives by a set of rules established for him in an effort for him to live a normal social life. Living with an intellectual disability of sort, but ‘high functioning’ he lives a structured life, following his ‘goals for the day’ given to him, whether it’s at his job, at home, or social cues to help him be accepted by others. At work Trevon found himself filling in for another co-worker that got food poisoning who was supposed handle a task in a specific manner. Trevon was given these new directions, but his ‘disability’ if I can call it that, prevented him from breaking the rules. As I mentioned, Trevon lives a life of structure, only being able to move forward when one task is complete properly. Since Trevon did not complete this task in the manner laid out by his co-worker, his boss decided to make an example out of Trevon to sway any other employee from making such choices. In what I can only describe as a man of pure rage, he jumps from normal to rage in a blink of an eye and decides to literally erase Trevon’s entire lifeline from existence by brutally murdering his entire family and loved ones. At this point, Trevon and his boss realize he has only one family member left that is currently out of the country. His boss’ intentions are clear, his threat real because he has already slaughtered his entire family. Trevon is now hopeless, lost, unsure of what to do, then, a stranger appears, a man with a mission of his own. Find someone that needs the Nowhere Man like he did, and Benito Orellana, the man whose son Evan saved from the gang in Hellbent, asked Trevon “can you remember a phone number?”
The U.S. President, Jonathan Bennet hellbent on killing Evan puts together two teams, one official, led by SAC, Naomi Templeton, the Secret Service agent that has been put in charge of finding this threat against the President. The other team, unofficial led by Judd Holt aka Orphan A, this team consisting of a team of misfits, convicted rapists and murderers. With the President driving the bus, Orphan A has all the tools he needs at his disposal to mount an attack on Orphan X. In one instance, utilizing a DoD supercomputer where Orphan A gave it specific hypotheticals that only an Orphan would be able to come up with, this supercomputer spit out a reservation for a hotel Evan was bedding down in. Attacking Orphan X however proved to be a suicide mission, killing his intruders and getting away from Orphan A in the nick of time. Orphan A, working for the President as well as being on a personal mission to kill Orphan X is resilient and won’t stop. However, it’s been proven time and time again that Orphan X is the best and Out of the Dark proves that once again. With Evan announcing his intentions to take on the most powerful man in the world, by sending him a clear message, multiple times. First, by placing a rifle on his route intended to send a message only the President will understand. The second, Orphan X mounts an attack on the President that is risky, but very impressive and brilliant. This mission, while successful, seems like a failure. It does however make the President become very paranoid. Forcing his people to check, double check, then triple check everything from the food delivered to the White House, to its water supply, the chemicals used in the pool, his clothes, even a suit tie made him scared of Orphan X. Which is exactly what Evan wanted!
Returning characters not yet mentioned include Joey, introduced in Hellbent as a runaway Orphan. She is back with a foul mouth and brilliant cyber capabilities which Evan utilizes to gain an advantage against the multiple parties pursuing him. Joey, bored with her current predicament, but staying put for the time being will hopefully (fingers crossed) return in future Orphan X novels, maybe even get her own short story that Gregg Hurwitz sometimes gives us. (Check out – Buy a Bullet & The Intern). Another returning character, Candy McClure also known as Orphan V. As elusive and deadly as Evan himself, she and Evan have had a long history of trying to kill each other, one of those times, back in Orphan X, Gregg Hurwitz’s first Orphan X novel, Evan was defending himself and kicked Candy into her own stash of concentrated hydrofluoric acid, her back and shoulders taking most of the damage, now “from the front, a centerfold. From behind, Freddy Krueger.” With Candy or Orphan V Evan must tread carefully, with the Secret Service and Orphan A and his band of misfits working hard to track him down, plus the Nowhere Man mission with Trevon, he can’t afford another target. But why exactly is Orphan V announcing herself all the sudden? This spoiler is too good to let escape in a review, order Out of the Dark and plan to take Tuesday, January 29th off from work. This is the best Orphan X novel to date, maybe the best thriller novel of 2019. It is an absolute Must Read. The only instance I can think of to not read this novel right away, is if you have not read any other Orphan X novels. While this book works just fine as a standalone, I highly recommend you start from the beginning of the Orphan X series and read them in order, you will not be disappointed