Matthew Quirk returns to the thriller scene with a thundering bang.
Saying you work at the White House sounds sexy unless you’re FBI agent Peter Sutherland, whose entire job description requires spending eight hours a night in the Situation Room sitting at a desk that houses a single phone that never rings.
For Peter, though, the job symbolizes something much bigger than babysitting a silent hotline. The son of a disgraced FBI chief, Peter has had to work twice as hard to earn trust within the agency. Once a solid D1 basketball player, Sutherland left the NCAA behind to join the FBI in an effort to right the wrongs committed by his father. Instead, he was reassigned to a third-shift assignment in the basement, where he’s unable to do any good until one night, out of the blue, the phone finally rings.
On the other end on the line, a frantic twenty-something-year-old woman named Rose Larkin battles through a panic attack long enough to inform Peter that someone had broken into her aunt and uncle’s home and killed them both. As Peter talks to her while local police and FBI agents race to the scene, she also relays a coded message her aunt and uncle had passed on to her indicating that something big is supposed to happen in six days. The message means nothing to Peter, who kicks the info up the chain to his boss, James Hawkins, a veteran agent with the FBI’s national security division, officially ending his involvement with the entire situation.
Unofficially, Peter isn’t as quick to forget about Rose and what happened to her aunt and uncle, Paulette and Henrey Campbell. After a series of truly innocent events, where Peter tried to offer his condolences to Rose and then be there for her after sensing she needed someone to lean on, he inadvertently finds himself present when the same people who killed the Campbells tries to terminate Rose, too.
Following the would-be attack, President Michael Travers’ chief-of-staff, Diane Farr, reads Peter into what’s really going on . . . revealing a huge conspiracy that, if the FBI is correct, means that Russia has infiltrated the highest levels of the American government and is planning something massive — which may go down in only a few days’ time.
Thrilled to finally be off the bench and into the game, Peter realizes the Campbells are the key to unmasking the mole and that they must have obtained enough proof that someone was willing to kill them and then come after Rose to bury it. But with each step he takes towards making sense of things, the bullseye on his own back becomes bigger and bigger, and soon he finds himself running from both assassins and those within his own agency. With no one to trust and nowhere to turn, Peter must figure out how to stay alive long enough to put the puzzle pieces together and expose the bigger picture before time runs out.
For those who’ve followed Quirk’s career, The Night Agent is more on par with The 500 than Cold Barrel Zero. That said, it’s quite different from anything he’s ever written, though newcomers won’t be able to tell it just from this one. Quirk’s latest feels like he’s been churning out political thrillers for decades, hitting on a timely plot that starts out fast and only speeds up as the story unfolds. The characters, mainly Peter and Rose, are developed enough that readers will care about and relate to them, adding to the tension and suspense as their fate hangs in the balance throughout. While this novel is a standalone, it does signal a new direction for Quirk, a former journalist, and readers will no doubt hope he leaves the military and action thrillers behind for more politically relevant storylines like this one.
Matthew Quirk delivers the first high-stakes, nail-biting political thriller of 2019 with The Night Agent, setting the pace early for what promises to be an exciting year of new releases.
Author: Matthew Quirk
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: January 15, 2019
Book Spy Rating: 8.5/10
Praised as “one of today’s finest book reviewers” by New York Times bestselling author Gayle Lynds, Ryan Steck (“The Godfather of the thriller genre” — Ben Coes) has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). He currently lives in Southwest Michigan with his wife and their six children.