The third novel in Gregg Hurwitz’ excellent action series continues the high-octane escapades of Evan Smoak, raised from the age of 12 to be a killing machine and now living underground as The Nowhere Man, aiding those needing the kind of help that’s outside the law.
Smoak’s callsign was Orphan X and his trainer Jack was his mentor, father figure and friend. With the Orphan program now closed, a fellow Orphan is leading the hunt to track down and eliminate anyone involved in the program.
Smoak’s nemesis is Charles Van Scriver and the title of the book could refer to Scriver’s obsession with Orphan X as much as it does the latter’s determination to seek revenge.
While the second novel of the series could easily be read as a stand-alone novel, this third entry is a continuation of the precarious situation built previously.
Hurwitz has again written a breathtaking story without compromising the depth of character and motivation that propels each character. Smoak, in particular, is an angst-ridden hero who struggles to be true to himself and to lead a normal life. His inner conflicts drive the story as much as the fast-paced action scenes themselves.
The storytelling raises the stakes in each book with the hunter progressively coming closer to his prey and finding new ways to hurt him.
Hellbent, as with the whole Orphan X series so far, is up there with the best of the action thrillers. Each book has been harder to put down than the last and, as things start to come to a head, the wait between books becomes increasingly more interminable.
Reviewed by Rod Lewis
Rating out of 10: 9
Distributed by: Penguin Australia
Released: February 2018
RRP: $39.99 hardcover, $32.99 trade paperback