Book Review: Prodigal Son by Gregg Hurwitz (Orphan X #6)

Prodigal Son is the latest adventure thriller in the Orphan X, aka The Nowhere Man series by Gregg Hurwitz. I’ve followed this series from the very first book, Orphan X, that captivated my interest in 2016.

The series features Evan Smoak, an assassin created by the Orphan secret government program that seeks to train lethal hitmen that obeyed no one but their masters. Except at some point, Evan had finally enough. And when he did, he used everything he had learned from his extensive training and experience to disappear and create a whole new persona, The Nowhere Man.

In this sixth book, the story follows Evan after he was pressured to stop his illegal work as The Nowhere Man in exchange for an unofficial pardon from the President.

He was ready to try to lead an ordinary life, whatever that was. A life he’d never thought he could have, never thought he deserved. One without knife wounds and concussions. Without a threat around every corner, the reek of death one wrong turn away.

People would have to go about helping themselves the ways they had before he’d come along. Or the ways they hadn’t.

And now Ethan has to learn how it is to live as a regular, average person doing a regular, average job – well not so average because he is rich enough to afford his penthouse and his expensive vodka.

But then of course, an average person’s life would never make an addictive thriller, so the author introduced Evan’s own mother who contacted him to help a person who was basically in the wrong place at the wrong time. Andrew Duran, the man in question, has some powerful figures after him, and it’s Evan Smoake’s job to protect him from the brother-sister team of assassins hot on his tails.

The story was suspenseful as usual, and after half a year of waiting, I could finally grab my hands on it at the publisher’s request for a review. I knew the fast-paced action would grip me, and it did. I was a bit sad for Evan because it seems living a normal life is something he would not be able to enjoy any time soon. And god knows he has deserved it. As usual, we get US military involving drone warfare, sadistic sociopaths, evil scientists, and then hacking skills and a few friends who aid him in his very dangerous mission.

Normally, I am not too keen on early-year flashbacks, but I always wanted to learn more about Evan’s life in Pride House Group Home, so I was actually pleased to get more glimpses at his very difficult childhood. Those flashbacks worked quite well with the current-day mystery of the phonecall that came from someone who supposedly was his mother. Evan was not very trustful of this voice, but he was also curious…something the woman was banking on.

Even had quite a difficult life, and over the years, he had formed a barrier, a shield that would protect all his emotions from the outside world. With each further book, we see his barriers cracking, and this story opened a bit more of the real Evan for us to get a glimpse of the man he could be. A man who could potentially even love…A man who is maybe not so lonely anymore as he wanted to be years ago.

I liked Evan back when he was that loner assassin who then became a protector of those who couldn’t protect themselves. Sure, there might have been guilt involved in his decision to help others, but help is help. And now I also like him surrounded by an unlikely family who cares for him. Ethan is not all-knowing, and he is aware of his limitations. Thus him asking for help from the people who do know about the various things he has no clue about (IT, hacking, etc). I liked Joey, the hacker, who sort of wormed her way into his life…and maybe his heart? We’ll see about that in further books, I guess.

My only grievance with this book is that it ends in a cliffy, and I hate cliffhangers because I feel the reader is cheated into buying the next book so they can get a resolution. Thus, while I do expect the underlying character development to continue from book to book, cliffhangers are a big no-no in my book. On the other hand, I do know I’ll pick up the next book when it comes out anyway, so I’ll find out what happened latest in a few months. And I’m pretty sure the next book will start as explosive as I already imagine it to be.

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