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Hellbent: Orphan X #3    by Gregg Hurwitz order for
by Gregg Hurwitz
Order:  USA  Can
Minotaur, 2018 (2018)
Hardcover, CD, e-Book
* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Gregg Hurwitz's Orphan X series features Evan Smoak, selected as a child to be part of a black U.S. operation training assassins to do wet work around the world. Evan deserted the Orphan program to become the legendary Nowhere Man, using his skills and secreted wealth to help people in desperate need. Evan asks each person he rescues from dire straits to find someone else in need of his help and give them his number.

The first novel introduced Evan and his personal quest to readers. In the sequel, he had to apply all his talents to save himself from a kidnapper and other Orphans, still in the program. Led by Evan's nemesis, Van Sciver (Orphan Y), they're tying up loose ends. In the process, Evan learned that his mentor and father figure, Jack, was still alive - Evan had long believed him dead. Now, as Hellbent opens, Evan hears from Jack again, and this time they really are his last words. He assigns Evan a final mission - 'GET PACKAGE'.

The package is not at all what Evan expects! He finds Joey, a slight but tough teenage girl who's Orphan-trained, but escaped the program with Jack's help. Now Van Sciver is after her, but also hopes to get Evan through her. Reluctantly, Evan takes her with him. Though he tries to leave her in safety more than once, it proves impossible, and Joey has surprising skills. While scrambling to survive successive attacks by Van Sciver's minions, Evan finds himself mentoring Joey, just as Jack mentored him. They also seek to find who's behind the hunt for Orphan escapees - and it reaches to the top.

I enjoyed the developing relationship between Evan and his new sidekick, just as much as the violent thrill-ride they take together, with close shaves at every turn. Survival seems impossible. But of course, Evan succeeds and grows in humanity through Jack's last mission. This episode ends with Evan greenlighting the new mission he's assigned himself - you'll definitely want to read the next episode to see how that one goes!

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