A Book Spy Review: ‘Red Warning’ by Matthew Quirk


When an experienced assassin turns the tables, it’s kill or be killed for CIA officer Sam Hudson in this riveting new thriller from New York Times bestselling author Matthew Quirk.

Sam Hudson has spent years trying to track down a Russian deep-cover operative, codenamed Konstantin—a man responsible for killing numerous American operators abroad—when he finally gets a break. Things, however, aren’t quite what they seemed, and soon, a meeting in Geneva with a trusted source to learn the whereabouts of Konstantin turns into a bloodbath.

The shooting starts almost immediately, and by the end of the gunfight, Sam’s partner is dead, and he barely makes it out alive.

Back in the states, Sam’s bosses aren’t pleased with his Konstantin obsession and put him on paid leave. Designed to let him cool off and refocus, the timeout handed down from his chain of command at CIA only gives the young officer more time to dedicate to his cause. Digging deeper, Sam becomes convinced that Konstantin followed him back to the US, and is the mastermind behind a string of recent bombings. Hellbent on stopping him before any more innocent lives are lost, Sam teams up with fellow CIA officer Emily Pierce to bring down Konstantin once and for all, but first, the duo has to find him—a task that has alluded everyone who’s tried to locate the killer. A chilling reality sets in for Sam, however, when he realizes that Konstantin is actually looking for him, setting up a heart-pumping final showdown that readers won’t soon forget.

Matthew Quirk’s career pivot from military thrillers to standalone tales of espionage has proven to be a home run. The Night Agent (2019) was a massive hit a few years back, which he then followed up with Hour of the Assassin. In many ways, this book is the perfect blend of those two titles, mixing mole-hunts with nail-biting suspense and enough action to keep thriller junkies flipping pages at a speedy rate. That said, the story is better suited for fans of le Carre and Daniel Silva than Mark Greaney or Brad Thor, as quirk leans heavily into the interworkings of D.C. and the CIA, giving readers a glimpse of how one might actually pursue a covert operative and track their movement. Honestly, that approach works fine here, as there’s no need to reinvent the wheel—and it’s clear that Quirk has been careful to avoid being formulaic in his approach. Veteran enthusiasts of the spy genre might be able to guess how this one will play out, though it’s still one heck of a ride getting there, whereas casual readers should expect to get rocked with a few twists along the way.

When it comes to characters, Sam Hudson is a compelling lead, and it’s easy to root for him and feel the tension whenever his life is in danger. Whereas most authors these days tend to pen series, Quirk’s decision to stay in the standalone format means anyone’s game and nobody is ever truly safe, creating more suspense and drama as things heat up. Emily Pierce, who helps Sam once he’s back in the states, is a scene-stealer. A sure-to-be fan favorite, Quick fleshes her out brilliantly and uses her to further develop his hero. It all works beautifully, adding a richness to the fast-moving storylines. There are other notable characters too, including the mysterious Konstantin, who deserve recognition. Though, to avoid spoilers, the less you know the better you probably are.

Matthew Quirk delivers the kind of well-written adventure his fans have come to expect with Red Warning, an early contender for best spy thriller of the year.

Book Details

Author: Matthew Quirk
Pages: 432 (Hardcover)
ISBN: 006305163X
Publisher: William Morrow
Release Date: June 7, 2022
Real Book Spy Rating: 8.0/10



Praised as “One of the hardest working, most thoughtful, and fairest reviewers out there” by #1 New York Times bestselling author Lisa Scottoline, Ryan Steck has “quickly established himself as the authority on mysteries and thrillers” (Author A.J. Tata). Steck also works full-time as a freelance editor and co-hosts the ThrillerTalk podcast when he’s not streaming and hanging out with his growing community on Twitch. His debut thriller, FIELDS OF FIRE, which #1 New York Times bestselling author Jack Carr says “will leave you speechless and begging for more,” comes out on September 6, 2022. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook.

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