Lone Wolf
February 1, 2024
Book Review

Lone Wolf

reviewed by Lou Jacobs


Thank God he’s back! Evan Smoak, aka Orphan X, returns for a highly anticipated ninth high-octane, breakneck-paced thriller — even though the previous book from 2023 was titled The Last Orphan. Reading an Orphan X tale is truly a guilty pleasure, akin to eating dessert before dinner.

Evan isn’t a superhero but rather a cross between James Bond and Robin Hood. He’s a highly skilled assassin, but with a moral compass and a highly honed desire to retain his humanity.

Evan was a twelve-year-old boy, rescued from the projects of East Baltimore, only to undergo a seven-year grueling training course under the tutelage of his handler, Jack Jones. Jack was the closest thing to a father and family he had ever known. This was part of a clandestine black ops, “Orphan Program,” created by the Department of Defense, creating a cadre of assassins with unparalleled abilities that were both deniable and expendable. Each was sent out on a mission to destroy a high-value target without backup. As his trainer, and a man of principle, Jack knew it was easy to train Evan to kill, but hard to have him retain his sense of humanity — a basic tenet throughout all the Orphan X novels. Eventually, Evan wanted out after a decade of covert killing, no longer wishing to be a lethal weapon of the government. He was one of only a few of the Orphans with an actual conscience. He embarked on his own program as a pro bono freelancer, helping those innocents who found themselves in an impossible situation. He became known to his enemies as The Nowhere Man, remaining on call 24/7 for the unfortunates, awaiting a 1-855-2-NOWHERE call on his high-tech, untraceable, and indestructible RoamZone phone, answering the pleas of the helpless and innocents caught in ruthless situations.

Evan is thrust into an untenable situation as he chases down his “possible” father after his protégé Joey uncovers his possible identity in a small town, Blessing, Texas — only to leave severely disappointed and disgusted with this “zero” of a human being. He would have to settle with the knowledge that he did actually have a half-brother, Andre, whom he accidentally encountered in one of the group homes.

While Evan is coming to terms with his ill-fated adventure seeking out his roots, the RoamZone goes off. He answers to a hysterical girl’s voice bleating something about her missing beloved dog, Loco, and her father insists that Evan can do and find anything. He soon realizes that he is talking to Sofia, his half-brother’s daughter — and “his niece.” While he reluctantly embarks on this seemingly mundane quest to find Loco, there is an assassin as adept as Evan, plying her trade by providing “accidental deaths” to fulfill her contracts. Without breaking a sweat, Karissa Lopatina drowns a software engineering manager, Anwuli Okonkwo, in her bathtub, and then kills AI expert Dr. Benjamin Hill. Loco has somehow been found by Dr. Hill and is living in his apartment. Evan tracks the dog down to Dr. Hill’s residence and comes upon the murder scene — while Karissa is still ransacking the apartment in search of something. Dr. Hill’s teenage daughter arrives on the scene, and Evan intervenes to save her life, allowing “The Wolf” to escape. Ultimately, this mundane dog-finding adventure explodes into an exponentially expanding mission pitting the mind and guile of Evan against AI technocrat billionaires and the mysterious and adept female assassin. The Wolf will return to eliminate loose ends — the daughter and even Orphan X.

Hurwitz proves to be a master storyteller as he uncouples this riveting barnburner of a thriller. This tale is exquisitely plotted with unexpected twists and deceptions, laced with cinematic fight scenes, brimming with violence and suspense. Each sequential tale of Orphan X reveals the emotional growth in this complicated and flawed man. This ninth installment can certainly be enjoyed and devoured as a standalone, as Hurwitz seamlessly supplies any necessary backstory. Be warned, fellow reader — you will be forced to quench your thirst and gobble up the previous novels.

Personally, I switched back and forth between reading on my Kindle and listening to the audio, but for the last half, I couldn’t tear myself away from the audio, narrated by the amazing Scott Brick. Scott is a multi-award-winning narrator of over 800 books, with a background as an actor and writer. His wonderful voice inflections brought the multiple characters to life in the “theatre of my mind.” He also is a natural storyteller with a mesmerizing quality that reflects the ongoing emotion and passion of the book.

Thanks to NetGalley, Minotaur Books, and Macmillan Audio for supplying an Uncorrected Proof and Advance Audio version in exchange for an honest review.

Lone Wolf available at:

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