A well-worthwhile five-star thriller combining totally murderous mayhem with a brutal assassin learning to care for a teenager.
#1, Orphan X. A US Government project where kids with promise are trained to become assassins. Spymaster Jack Johns becomes not only Evan Smoak’s instructor and guardian, but a surrogate father.
#2, The Nowhere Man. Going rogue from the Orphan Program, Evan becomes a force for good and a deadly help for the totally desperate, one case at a time.
And now #3, Hellbent .
Jack is murdered by an Orphan, the man in charge of the remaining Orphans, and the team of killers at his command, given the task of wiping out every remaining trace of the Orphan Program. Jack manages to warn Evan and gives him a task – find and protect a teenage girl who has escaped the Orphans.
Sixteen year old Joey is clever, an innovative hacker, and she’s dangerous. And she doesn’t trust Evan. Their rocky relationship is a big part of the story as this killer, untrained in the subtleties of the psychological approach to any teenager, never mind a highly disturbed one, struggles to keep her safe as their trackers close in.
Technically competent, or at least convincing to a layman, I enjoyed the tracing, the counter measures, escaping and trying to turn the tables as Evan evens the odds.
Evan’s socially inept character is acceptable, coupled to his conflicting needs; for human warmth, and for keeping his distance.
A racy thriller, indeed.
Thanks to PENGUIN RANDOM HOUSE SA for the ARC.
www.penguin.co.uk ISBN 978-0-718-18547-3.