Orphan X Books In Order: All 11 Books In Gregg Hurwitz’s Series

The Orphan X series by Gregg Hurwitz is one of the most exciting thriller sagas out there, featuring an orphan assassin who was trained since childhood, but is now putting his skills to good use and helping out the vulnerable people who need the most assistance.

Orphan X Books In Order All 11 Books In Gregg Hurwitz’s Thriller Series

This assassin is Evan Smoak, and his difficult life and childhood are what ignited his passion to help desperate people.

Across each book, Evan puts his particular set of ruthless skills to use in helping new people with new cases. However, at the same time, he frequently has to outrun his past and rival assassins.

The author, Gregg Hurwitz, has had a varied career. Besides the 11 books of the Orphan X series, he has also written countless other thriller novels, as well as film and TV scripts and comic books.

The Orphan X series is massively popular, and film and TV adaptations have long been discussed, with the character compared to successful franchises like Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher.

With so many stories, it can be difficult knowing what order to read the Orphan X series in. Thankfully, our handy guide has the best order in which to read all 11 Orphan X books!

About Orphan X

Orphan X

The Orphan X series revolves around Evan Smoak, a lone wolf assassin with plenty of ruthless skills.

An orphan, his path to his present life all began when he was taken from his children’s home at age twelve and placed into the Orphan Program by the United States government.

The covert governmental program was dedicated to training orphans into ruthless assassins.

With no families to answer to, it gave the government ultimate deniability and the ability to execute trainees if they went wrong.

However, Evan was lucky enough to have a handler, Jack Johns, that was different from all the others – kinder.

Jones treated Evan like a son, and it instilled in the orphan a humanity that set him apart from the other assassins.

Using the very skills that they taught him, Evan was able to escape the program and disappear.

Once free, he dedicated his new ruthless abilities to good, becoming “The Nowhere Man” and undertaking a mission to help desperate, vulnerable people with nowhere to turn.

However, helping these people won’t be so easy, because Evan Smoak’s past will always be hunting him.

Orphan X Books In Order

Orphan X (2016)

Orphan X: A Novel (Orphan X, 1)

The very first book in Gregg Hurtwitz’s Orphan X series, this introduces us to the highly-skilled character of Evan Smoak and his troubled past.

Once known as Orphan X, but now known as The Nowhere Man, Evan Smoak is a man with a dangerous past.

When he was an orphaned child, he was one of many orphans to be placed into the US government’s Orphan Program.

The ultimate secret black box program, it was flawless: without families, the United States could do whatever they wanted with these children. This meant training them into ruthless assassins.

And if it didn’t work? They could simply dispose of the trainees, no questions asked.

Evan Smoak was trained as Orphan X, learning skills and resources that, it turns out, would set him up for life.

However, it wouldn’t set him up in the way the government hoped, because Smoak broke free and decided to put his skills to good, moral use instead.

He became The Nowhere Man, a legendary fixer who helps only vulnerable, desperate, and deserving people.

However, Even finds himself against an unexpected threat with similar training and skills to him, and this rival is willing to exploit our hero’s new secret identity in order to kill him. Can he survive?


  • It’s the first entry in the thrilling Orphan X series!


  • Some female characters are underwritten.

Buy A Bullet (2016)

Buy a Bullet: An Orphan X Short Story

The next entry in the Orphan X series isn’t actually a full-length novel, but rather an exciting short story that fleshes out the backstory of our hero, telling us about his very first outing as The Nowhere Man.

After completing a mission for the Orphan Program, Orphan X (Evan Smoak) is in North Carolina.

While there, he spots a young woman at a coffee shop that looks like she needs his help.

Brutalized, this poor woman is trapped under the control of a very powerful man, and she knows that her life will be at risk unless she is able to escape. Except, obviously, her life could be at risk if she DOES try and escape.

That is unless a man as skilled as Evan Smoak can help her out.

In this short and exciting adventure, readers get to learn about the transition from Orphan X to The Nowhere Man, where Evan finds his true calling and starts to put his dangerous set of skills to good use in helping those who need help the most – the vulnerable, the desperate.


  • We see The Nowhere Man’s first case.


  • You’ll be left wanting more!

The Nowhere Man (2017)

The Nowhere Man (Thorndike Press large print basic)

The next full-length entry in the Orphan X series sees Evan Smoak, the legendary Nowhere Man, in a particularly difficult situation.

Ambushed, drugged, and then taken away, Evan awakes in a locked room with a lot of questions. For one, where is he? Secondly, who kidnapped him? And thirdly, why?

Evan sets to work using his skillset to find answers, testing out the security and well-trained guards of his prison. However, he soon finds that he doesn’t have a lot of time to find his answers because he receives a desperate call for help.

Now the pressure is doubly on for Evan to escape his captivity because it’s not only his life at stake but the lives of the desperate and vulnerable that depend on him as The Nowhere Man.

Getting free and protecting these lives will take everything he’s got because he’s up against a mysterious opponent the likes of which he’s never encountered.

He’ll need to out-smart and out-fight them at every turn if he’s going to save the day…


  • It’s packed with action and tension.


  • However, it’s occasionally slow.

Hellbent (2017)

Hellbent: An Orphan X Novel (Orphan X, 3)

The third full-length novel in the Orphan X series sees the highly-skilled Evan Smoak taking on a far more personal case than he’s used to, needing to help out a man from his past that made him the cunning, caring assassin he is today.

When Evan was part of the government Orphan Program, he had a special handler named Jack Johns.

While other handlers turned the other orphans into uncaring, ruthless assassins, Jack Johns treated Evan like a father, and it’s this special treatment that encouraged Evan to become The Nowhere Man, using his skills to help vulnerable and deserving people only.

However, now Jack is in danger. Government forces have been trying to scrub every last trace of the Orphan Program and leave no evidence behind, and this means getting rid of all assets too.

The government forces have finally tracked Jack down, so Jack contacts Evan and gives him one final mission: to locate and protect Jack’s final recruit from the program.

It’s a nice bookend to Evan’s own experiences, protecting a protégé that’s in the same position that Evan was once in.

However, with shady government forces and an elusive new type of dangerous enemy on his trail, Evan is going to have his work cut out for him. Can he save the recruit? Can he save himself?


  • It has complex characters and situations.


  • Some violence is over the top.

The Intern (2018)

The Intern: An Orphan X Short Story

This is another short story delivering a concise, exciting adventure with Orphan X, rather than a full-length novel. It’s well worth reading and delivers an adrenaline dose of thrilling action and stakes.

The focus of the story, and the focus of Evan’s help, is a local summer intern who’s been working for a tabloid news site.

She bites off more than she can chew, however, when she trails another reporter into a crime zone, soon finding herself in a world full of threat and danger. How will she get out?

Thankfully, The Nowhere Man is on his way. Our hero will put all of his skills to the test in order to extract her from the crime zone safely in this nail-biting, short page-turner.


  • Short and exciting.


  • However, it’s TOO short.

Out Of The Dark (2019)

Out of the Dark: An Orphan X Novel (Orphan X, 4)

The fourth full-length entry in the Orphan X series, this deals directly with the aftermath of the previous full-length novel, “Hellbent”.

Mysterious and unknown forces at the highest levels of government are still trying to get rid of every last trace of the Orphan Program, burying all information, assets, and knowledge of it and leaving themselves completely unaccountable.

In order to clear every trace, these forces have been hunting and killing every remaining Orphan, as well as all of their trainers and handlers.

This meant that not only Evan was under threat, but also his handler, Jack Johns. And unfortunately, due to the events of the previous book, Evan is now hell-bent on revenge.

But with so many shady government contacts to pick from, who is the focus of his revenge? None other than the President of the United States.

Since the President was responsible for starting the program, Evan goes after the biggest target of his life.

However, the President has learned that Evan is after him, and so he’s issued the most powerful counter-attack he has: the very first Orphan recruit, Orphan A.

Similarly trained and similarly ruthless, it’s Orphan A VS Orphan X, and it’s going to take all of Evan’s skills and tactics to outsmart this enemy.

Harder still, he’ll need to do it before the President harms any more leftovers from the Orphan Program. It’s a race against time against an impossible enemy…


  • The characters are well-drawn and interesting.


  • It becomes a little too unrealistic at times.

Into The Fire (2020)

Into the Fire: An Orphan X Novel (Orphan X, 5)

Out of the dark and into the fire…

Evan Smoak, The Nowhere Man, is back to doing what he does best: using his particular set of ruthless skills to help those who really need it. And this time, the focus of his help is Max Merriweather, a truly desperate man.

Max is in a very bad place. His cousin has recently been killed, and all that Max was left with was an envelope with a strange key. However, somebody is after the key and will do anything to get it, placing Max in extreme danger.

Naturally, this places anyone Max turns to for help in extreme danger too, but that’s a risk that the highly-skilled Nowhere Man is willing to take.

However, what appears to be a simple job at the start turns out to be something far more deadly, as Evan finds that every enemy he takes out simply gives way to a deadlier enemy behind them.

Who are these threats? Why do they want the key? What does the key unlock? Evan will have to push all his skills to the limit if he’s to find the answers and protect both Max Merriweather and himself.


  • Full of wry humor.


  • Relies too much on references to previous books.

The List (2020)

The List: An Orphan X Short Story

Another short story adventure for Orphan X, this next entry in Gregg Hurwitz’s popular series revolves around the last recruit of the Orphan Program, Joey Morales, who Evan helped out in “Hellbent”.

However, Joey has got herself into a fix while attending college, and now needs Evan’s assistance.

One day on campus, Joey tried – and failed – to stop a young woman’s suicide attempt. She soon finds out the reason that the poor woman took her own life, and it’s all to do with a document known as The List.

An awful document, it offers rankings of the women on campus based on their appearance and other lewd things.

Angered and wishing to avenge the poor woman, Joey tries to find the boys who created The List in the first place.

In order to help her track down these scumbags, Joey contacts her mentor and savior Evan Smoak, in a neat role reversal for Orphan X – once a trainee, long ago, he’s now a mentor.

Together, Joey and Evan must work together with their particular set of skills and make sure that those responsible for The List pay.

This isn’t just avenging the dead woman, though, it’s also a race against time to protect future women from the dreadful document.


  • A gripping, sad set-up.


  • You’ll want more!

Prodigal Son (2021)

Prodigal Son: An Orphan X Novel (Orphan X, 6)

Another full-length entry in the Orphan X saga, this next book sees Evan Smoak on the verge of retirement.

The highest power in the United States has offered him an unofficial pardon, which would make his life a lot easier and stop him from having to run from his past so much.

However, it comes at a cost, and that would be that he has to give up his vigilante work as The Nowhere Man.

Smoak takes the opportunity, but his retirement is short-lived because he soon gets a call for help from a most unexpected place.

It’s his mother – or at least a lady who claims to have given Evan up for adoption all those years ago.

She has a request for The Nowhere Man and his ruthless set of skills and that’s to help out Andrew Duran, a man whose life is in disarray and who has found himself accidentally in the attention of powerful, deadly figures.

With a lethal duo of assassins (who are also brother and sister) after Andrew, he has only one person to turn to.

However, Evan’s supposed to be retired. And even if he does come out of retirement, this case is going to put him right in the crosshairs of a mysterious cabal…


  • It’s fascinating meeting a character from Evan’s deep, deep past.


  • The middle drags a little.

Dark Horse (2022)

Dark Horse: An Orphan X Novel (Orphan X, 7)

In the seventh full-length book in the Orphan X series, Evan Smoak is heading into the most challenging mission of his life.

Evan Smoak, The Nowhere Man, is in a bad place. He’s just survived a lethal attack on his life and his base of operations has been destroyed too. Evan isn’t in a position to take on a new mission, but one comes to him anyway.

Aragon Urrea needs help desperately. A complicated man, he’s the kingpin of a major operation dealing illicit substances.

However, at the same time, he also puts his money and influence into helping others, providing jobs in legitimate fields, and assisting with the local area. The source of his power may be bad, but he puts it to good use.

However, his lofty position has made him a direct target, and a vicious cartel has just kidnapped his innocent daughter.

At 18 years old, the young woman has been taken away to an armored complex in Mexico.

Naturally, Aragon is desperate to get his daughter back before harm comes to her, and Evan Smoak is the man to do it.

Torn between helping a bad man or risking the life of his innocent daughter, Evan has his work cut out, and it’ll be even harder penetrating the heavily-armed, heavily-guarded cartel headquarters.

The most challenging mission of his career, it’s going to take all his skills.


  • It’s packed with suspense!


  • It’s a bit too dark.

The Last Orphan (2023)

The Last Orphan: An Orphan X Novel (Orphan X, 8)

In the eighth and most recent full-length Orphan X book, Evan Smoak finds himself with a deadly ultimatum and very little choice.

Though he’s often been ahead of the government trying to track him down and has escaped the hunting down of all the orphans from the now-shuttered Orphan Program, Evan is still firmly on the radar of the high and powerful. And none more powerful than the President of the United States…

The President has Evan firmly in her control and gives him an impossible deal. Kill a rich and powerful target that the government needs getting rid of, or do nothing and die.

This puts Evan in an impossible position. When he escaped the Orphan Program, he had sworn only to put his ruthless skills to good use, helping out desperate and vulnerable people who needed help the most.

However, though this new assignment goes against his principles, the alternative is losing his own life. Which matters more?


  • Evan is introspective and interesting.


  • The ending disappointed some readers.

Final Thoughts

The Orphan X series by Gregg Hurwitz is filled with thrills, suspense, and tough dilemmas.

Based around a lone wolf assassin with a complicated past, it’s a series that can be placed alongside thriller milestones like Jason Bourne and Jack Reacher.

Whether he’s helping people in need, or trying to outrun his dangerous past, the main character Evan Smoak is always dependable: smart, cunning, skilled, and empathetic.

Read the series in order with our guide!

Frequently Asked Questions

What’s The Best Orphan X Book?

Every fan has their own favorite, but many would agree that the first book, “Orphan X”, is the best. It sets up a fascinating character and sees The Nowhere Man fight a lethal threat.

YouTube video
Anna Davis