Review of “OrphanX” by Gregg Hurwitz

This was a book I purchased in Doha, Qatar, for the second leg of a 31 hour international flight. I like to read action novels on long flights, maybe for the adrenaline rush? Anyway, I finished it just before landing, in about 14 hours. I’ve never read any of the author’s books before but he has quite a few, and is apparently very popular. None of that matters to me, however, because I’m a little more critical than the average reader or critic these days. There is no such thing as a master story teller to me.

First, as you might expect from an experienced author like Hurwitz, the grammar and punctuation are good. The style is ponderous, the way my early drafts tend to be. Readable but slow going at times. I noted that the second half of the book was less well-written than the first, a tendency I’ve noted before. The first half gets read more and thus cleaned up; also, the author can get impatient towards the end, especially when they know they’re going to make a gazillion dollars.

As with so many best-selling authors (read inflated egoes), there is a lot of explanation of minor points in the story, such as the mechanics of print/paint art restoration. Unrelated to the story. I suppose they’re meant as diversions from the main plot, which was easy to figure out as soon as the contributing elements were revealed. In an effort to keep the story interesting to a reader who had already figured out who did it and why, several side characters were introduced, again contributing very little to the story. There was supposed to be some introspection by the protagonist but it wasn’t very convincing; how could it be with a guy who murdered people for a career and for whom a violent solution is the first choice, in every situation?

The author does a good job describing violent scenes, like fights and murder. However, after two or three such depictions of physical prowess by the protagonist, I was wishing they had been either shortened or deleted. I guess that’s how it’s done when you have a reputation to keep up: repeat ad nauseam whatever made you famous. At least the hero lost a few times.

Overall, it was okay but I skipped a lot and had to go back and read it because my motto is “I read every word.” I did, even if it hurt.

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