cover image Orphan X

Orphan X

Gregg Hurwitz, read by Scott Brick. Brilliance Audio, unabridged, 9 CDs, 11.5 hrs., $29.99 ISBN 978-1-4915-5194-3

This series opener by Hurwitz (Don’t Look Back) features as its protagonist a former licensed-to-kill member of the government’s covert Orphan Program, who has been on the run from his homicidal ex-associates since he broke free. Known by his foes as the Nowhere Man, he has given himself a new name, Evan Smoak, and has constructed an elaborate technological security wall around himself. He has also decided to atone for past homicides by helping those in need—in this case Katrin White, a gambler whose father will be killed unless she pays her gambling debts. Considering his past life, it’s understandable that Smoak is a dark, moody guy, a point underlined by reader Brick’s chilly, no-nonsense approach to the character. Likewise, his sustained dramatic delivery effectively adds power to the action-filled and suspenseful moments. However, it also highlights the book’s somewhat distractingly detailed descriptions of weaponry, technology and products; these undercut scenes such as Smoak having to deal with his condo board, which offer needed light relief from the novel’s ultra-noirish mood. A Minotaur hardcover. (Jan.)