Quick Review: RED WARNING by Matthew Quirk (William Morrow)

QuirkM-RedWarningA long-dormant Cold War plan threats to devastate all of Washington, D.C.

CIA officer Sam Hudson races to find a deep cover operative loose in the U.S. and a mole in the Agency before they can launch a devastating attack on Washington, D.C. …

For years CIA officer Sam Hudson has been hunting Konstantin, a Russian deep cover operative responsible for a string of assassinations in the West—and he believes a well-placed source in Geneva can finally get him close to the killer. But when their meeting is ambushed, Sam’s partner is murdered and he barely makes it out alive himself.

Back in the States, the bosses put him on leave and want him to drop his obsession with Konstantin, but Sam can’t let a man who’s taken so many lives slip away again. When he gets a mysterious call at the Lincoln Memorial just before a bomb goes off, he realizes Konstantin has followed him to the U.S. — and is targeting him and everyone close to him. Teaming up with fellow CIA officer Emily Pierce, he sets out to redeem himself and uncover a plot that has been lying in wait since the end of the Cold War, its elements hidden among the most iconic buildings in the capital.

With enemies lurking both inside and outside the Agency and the Russian threat looming ever larger, Sam must use all his training and nerve to stop Konstantin before he can trigger the plot to devastate Washington and bring the U.S. to its knees.

I’ve been a fan of Matthew Quirk’s fast-paced thrillers ever since his debut, The 500 — which I read in one sitting, deep into the night. Each of his novels since has been equally gripping and action-packed. In Red Warning, he offers another action-packed thriller, but one that dials back the pacing just a little bit — which makes for a more substantial read. I really enjoyed this.

Sam Hudson is in many ways a typical CIA hero: highly capable, patriotic, committed. However, he’s also become somewhat obsessed with tracking down a Russian operative who may, or may not exist. “Konstantin” has emerged as a bogeyman of the West’s intelligence services, especially CIA; the apparent mastermind of multiple assassinations and silencing of moles and potential defectors. we meet Hudson on a mission, as he attempts to recruit a Russian operative who claims to have information about Konstantin’s movements — and, the ultimate prize, a way of tracking him down. The mission goes extremely awry, and Hudson is sent home under a cloud. His superiors question his abilities, his loyalties, and more.

QuirkM-RedWarningUKHCAnd then the attacks on American soil begin. An explosion at the Lincoln Memorial, where Hudson was running at the time. Boxed in on all sides, but still sidelined by the Agency, Hudson decides to investigate on his own. He does, however, have help from Emily Pierce — a fellow CIA employee, one with whom he has a complicated history.

Red Warning is another great read. As with the author’s two previous novels — The Night Agent and Hour of the Assassin — it’s a more substantial read than his first few, which were super-fast-paced thrillers that barely left the reader much time to catch their breath before the plot blitzed forward again. Here, though, there’s more time given over to character development and the calmer moments of the plot. This by no means diminishes how engaging the story is, and felt all the better for it.

The novel is populated by plenty of interesting characters (on both sides of this ongoing Cold War), excellent action sequences, some interesting commentary on the current state of international affairs, and well-presented and interesting spycraft. One could argue that the ending was a foregone conclusion, given that Red Warning is very much of its genre, but Quirk gets us there in an interesting and not entirely predictable way.

Overall, then, another gripping thriller from Quirk. If you have any interest in fast-paced thrillers (or action movies), then I think you’ll find a lot to like in Quirk’s novels. Definitely recommended. I can’t wait for his next book!


Matthew Quirk’s Red Warning is out now, published by William Morrow in North America and Aries/Head of Zeus in the UK.

Also on CR: Reviews of The 500The Directive, and The Night Agent

Follow the Author: Website, Goodreads, Twitter
Review copy received via NetGalley

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