The Night Agent just debuted on Netflix last week, and already, it’s one of the most watched and talked about shows on the streaming platform. If you’ve read Matthew Quirk’s book, that likely comes as no surprise. Quirk’s 2019 novel currently holds a 4.4/5 rating on Amazon, with over 1,600 reviews to date. Aside from being fast-paced and expertly crafted, Quirk’s thriller also packs twist after twist, keeping readers—and now viewers—on the edge of their seats.
The show, which stars Gabriel Basso (The Big C, Super 8, etc.) as FBI Agent Peter Sutherland, was created by famed screenwriter and producer Shawn Ryan (The Shield, The Unit, S.W.A.T., etc.), who has cranked out a ton of hit television shows over the course of his brilliant career. Here, when adapting Quirk’s novel, Ryan stayed fairly true to the source material, which follows Sutherland as he suddenly finds himself in the middle of a Russian mole hunt right in the White House. The ten-episode first season has earned rave reviews, with many already asking about a potential second season. Given that Quirk’s novel, at least so far, was written as a standalone, it’ll be interesting to see what happens in the future.
In the meantime, though, here are ten books you can read to help get your FBI/conspiracy fix.
1.) Hour of the Assassin by Matthew Quirk
Released about a year after The Night Agent first hit store shelves, Quirk followed up his hit thriller with another conspiracy-driven storyline that packs a mean punch. Hour of the Assassin stars Secret Service agent Nick Averose, who, after a decade of protecting the most powerful man in the world, is now using those skills to preemptively play offense, thinking like a would-be assassin. Officially, Averose is a “red teamer,” scouting places high profile people will be, analyzing each stop, and looking at it from the perspective of a potential assassin who might be looking to take out that target. That line of thinking gives the secret service the ability to play defense, planning out how they’ll stop any such attack given Averose’s feedback. The formula works. Until it doesn’t. And soon, Nick finds himself being framed and in the middle of a jaw-dropping conspiracy that, should he make even one mistake, will leave him either behind bars or dead. If you liked The Night Agent, you’ll love this other page-turning thriller from Matthew Qurk.
2.) The Inner Circle by Brad Meltzer
If you’re not familiar with Meltzer’s work, he’s perhaps the most diverse talent in publishing today. On top of his successful “I Am” series of children’s books, which served as the basis for the PBS Kids series Xavier Riddle and the Secret Museum, Meltzer is known for being one of the best headline-beaters in the game today. Never has that been more true than with The Inner Circle, the first book in his Beecher White series. Here, Meltzer introduces readers to Beecher, a young archivist who spends his days working with the U.S. government’s most important documents. Beecher, like his creator, is a “keeper of other people’s stories” who suddenly finds himself in the middle of his own when an old friend shows up at the National Archives and asks for help tracking down her long-lost father. Beecher’s eagerness to help inadvertently leads to him uncovering a 200-hundred-year-old dictionary that once belonged to George Washington, and that discovery kicks off a stunning chain of events, including him finding a “coded and ingenious puzzle that conceals a disturbing secret from the founding of our nation.” A secret some are willing to kill in order to protect. Simply put, I cannot recommend this book enough.
3.) The Assassins by Gayle Lynds
Gayle Lynds, the undisputed queen of espionage, outdid herself with her 2015 thriller, The Assassins. The second book in her Judd Ryder series, this one kicks off with six master assassins—each a “legend in the dark corners of international espionage”—banding together to steal a fortune from the middle of a war zone. Instead, things go terribly wrong, and all six killers go to ground. Years later, in the present day, FBI agent Judd Ryder is walking home when he sees a man exit his house wearing his clothes. The man bears a striking resemblance to Judd, causing the FBI agent’s antenna to go up. However, before Judd can confront the imposter, the man is killed—leaving Judd with the chilling realization that someone just tried to eliminate him. But why? And why was someone pretending to be him? Those are the question he suddenly must answer—and quickly—before the killer realizes their mistake and comes to finish the job. In his effort to make sense of things, Judd realizes that the assassins are back. So too is a very dangerous man from his past. And they’ll all racing, killing anyone who stands in their way, to uncover a deep conspiracy that could lead to billions of dollars. Much like The Night Agent, Lynds dials up the suspense here in a way that’ll have you flipping pages well into the night.
4.) The Lost Order by Steve Berry
The Knights of the Golden Circle was the largest and most dangerous clandestine organization in American history. It amassed billions in stolen gold and silver, all buried in hidden caches across the United States. Since 1865 treasure hunters have searched, but little of that immense wealth has ever been found. Now, one hundred and sixty years later, two factions of what remains of the Knights of the Golden Circle want that lost treasure—one to spend it for their own ends, the other to preserve it. Thrust into this battle is former Justice Department agent Cotton Malone, whose connection to the knights is far deeper than he ever imagined. At the center is the Smithsonian Institution—linked to the knights, its treasure, and Malone himself through an ancestor, a Confederate spy named Angus “Cotton” Adams, whose story holds the key to everything. Complicating matters are the political ambitions of a reckless Speaker of the House and the bitter widow of a United States Senator, who together are planning radical changes to the country . . . and it’s up to Cotton Malone to figure out their end game, and stop it. Berry has long been one of the best thriller writers in the industry, and similarly to The Night Agent, most of his stuff is centered around deep conspiracies set across a Washinton, D.C. backdrop.
5.) The Fix by David Baldacci
The third book in David Baldacci’s—a man who needs no introduction—mega-bestselling Amos Decker series, The Fix is another perfect fit for readers and viewers who’ve already devoured The Night Agent and are looking for a similar type of setup. The truth is, there are a number of Baldacci’s books that could fit nicely here, but I went with this one because, personally, I think it’s one of his strongest novels to date, featuring his most unique character so far. FBI Agent Amos Decker suffers from an extraordinarily rare disease that has left him, quite literally, unable to forget anything. Ever. Every memory is seared deeply into his brain. While the vivid nature of some of those memories causes Decker pain, his condition also makes him excellent at his job. So, when he sees a man gun down a woman in cold blood on the streets just outside FBI headquarters before turning the gun on himself, Decker notices things that nobody else catches and vows to get answers. Almost as soon as his investigation starts, though, an agent with the Defense Intelligence Agency, citing “urgent national security,” orders Decker to stand down and forget whatever he saw. We already know, though, that’s impossible, and soon Decker learns of a startling conspiracy that involves an imminent attack on the United States. This series would be perfect for any of the big streaming platforms, and if The Night Agent kept you up—so will this one.
6.) Overwatch by Matthew Betley
Much like The Night Agent, this book starts with a ringing phone that’s answered, inadvertently kicking off a deadly conspiracy. Here, Matthew Betley introduces readers to a former Marine officer named Logan West, who is battling alcoholism (among other demons) and is just waking up from a days-long bender when he discovers an intruder in his home. After a brief struggle, Logan kills the mysterious attacker. Moments later, the man’s phone rings, and he answers it—triggering “a global race against the clock to track down an unknown organization searching for an Iraqi artifact that is central to a planned attack in the Middle East.” After agreeing to become a “consultant” for the FBI as part of a special taskforce, Logan joins the efforts to find and stop whoever’s behind everything, no matter what. What follows is a ton of large, high-flying action sequences as Betley—who quickly made a name for himself as one of the premier action writers in the genre—starts his series with a resounding bang. This series is only four books long so far (my personal favorite is Field of Valor), but any one of Betley’s titles would fit this list, and all are worth reading if you haven’t checked him out already.
7.) False Assurances by Christopher Rosow
The first book in Rosow’s excellent series, False Assurances serves as a brilliant introduction to FBI agent Ben Porter, an unlikely hero you can’t help but root for. It all starts when, on a slow news day in July, the FBI field office in Boston receives what many believe to be a hoax call. A man rescued off the coast of Massachusetts claims that his boat was hijacked and then used to smuggle weapons of mass destruction into the United States. It’s an implausible story, one that many believe might just be a distraction. Still, the FBI sends out one of its own to check things out and make sure it is really just a hoax. Enter Ben Porter—an administrative staffer who is not trained for fieldwork. What Ben lacks in experience and physical training, he makes up for with his wits and instincts, which, right from the jump, tells him there’s far more going on than what originally meets the eye. Indeed, Ben’s gut is correct, and soon, he finds himself in an epic race to stop a daring terrorist attack that could cripple America and bring her to her knees. Rosow’s smooth, easy first-person prose makes these so fun to read, while his plotting and masterful character development make all his books impossible to set down. If you aren’t reading his stuff, start.
8.) Deep State by Chris Hauty
If you love The Night Agent and are only looking to read one book from this whole list . . . make it Hauty’s Deep State. A perfect match for Quirk’s readers, Hauty’s debut thriller follows ex-Army grunt turned White House intern Hayley Chill who, following the death of the president’s chief-of-staff, is the only person who’s convinced the man’s death was the result of murder and not from natural causes. The president, recently elected and dealing with an increasingly polarized Washington D.C., has proven to be divisive. Never has the partisan drama been so tense or the paranoia so rampant. As political turf wars wage on, Hayley must carefully search for answers, but in doing so, finds a dark conspiracy lurking in the White House. The president’s life may be in danger, and it’s up to Hayley to put all the pieces together and save the day before it’s too late. Like Quirk’s novel, Deep State packs a wicked twist ending that’ll leave readers picking their jaws up from the floor.
9.) The Inside Ring by Mike Lawson
Someone just tried to kill the president. Thankfully, he’s only wounded. But his best friend and a Secret Service Agent were killed in the attack. Worse, the attack itself wasn’t completely without warning. Andrew Banks, the Secretary of Homeland Security, had received a warning that the president’s life may be in danger and, even more alarming, that Secret Service agents guarding the president had been compromised. Fearing the consequences, Banks is reluctant to tell the FBI the truth about the note and instead goes to an old friend for help. That friend turns out to be Speaker Mahoney, who then tasks Joe DeMarco, a man he trusts, to look into things and assess the level of danger. DeMarco, a “fixer” of sorts, digs in, quickly unearthing a larger conspiracy that casts a dark cloud over Washington. The first book in a long series that’s still going on today, Lawson’s The Inside Ring reads like a mix of Brad Meltzer’s The Inner Circle and Quirk’s The Night Agent, making it a natural fit for this list.
10.) The End Game by Catherine Coulter & J.T. Ellison
The third book in the explosive “Brit in the FBI” series from New York Times bestselling authors Catherine Coulter and J.T. Ellison, The End Game brings back FBI agent Nicholas Drummond and his partner Mike Caine for another shocking adventure that absolutely sizzles. In this book, Drummond and Caine are hot on the heels of a violent group known for widespread bombings of power grids and oil refineries across the country. But while the duo is chasing another lead from an FBI tipster, the Bayway Refinery in New Jersey explodes. Drummond and Caine rush right there, only to be nearly killed in a follow-up explosion. After, they discover that the source for their latest tip has been killed. Running down every lead they have, the duo eventually realizes there’s a much bigger plot in the works and that the president’s life is in grave danger. Once again, it’s up to them to save the day, but this time, they may have finally met their match. An excellent franchise from the first book to the last (or most recent), this series has everything you’d expect from two powerhouse authors teaming up to double the thrills and deliver twice the suspense.
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 is building a 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,” is now available. For more information, be sure to follow him on Twitter and Facebook. And to take part in free, exclusive BOOK CLUBS each month, join The Real Book Spy on Discord.