The Night Agent: Prologue

Peter Sutherland stalked through the trees wearing a navy suit, white shirt, and black oxfords polished to a high gloss. Everything about him was FBI standard, the code he had followed so carefully for so long. A perfect square.

The ax in his hand was new, though, as was the borrowed pistol on his hip with no serial number.

Bruises and cuts covered the side of his throat. He hadn’t slept in twenty-four hours.

The ax was a beauty, its steel blade gleaming like a razor at the end of thirty-six inches of American ash.

He walked toward the red brick mansion, studying it. Peter knew how to get in and out of a home without leaving a trace. That was his job. Surveillance. Tracking. Seeing without being seen.

But the time for hiding was over. He moved across the soft grass of the lawn, toward the back of the house.

The day was cool, but his cheeks were flushed. His heartbeat washed in his ears like crashing surf. He welcomed it, welcomed the adrenaline flooding down his spine as he took the steps of the rear deck two at a time to the door.

The house surely had an alarm system, but he didn’t care. Let them come. All of them. Police. Secret Service. The cold assassins masquerading as intelligence officers.

Peter had always been so careful about the rules. He had to be. His father had betrayed his country. Suspicion had trailed Peter for most of his life. No matter how faultless he was, he couldn’t escape it, and now they had branded him as a traitor, too.

He didn’t break his stride as he tilted his wrist down and let the ax slip through his fingers to its full length, grabbing it at the end of the handle. He closed his left hand on the wood grain just above his right and swung the tool back, over his head, the four-pound blade arcing until it nearly touched his spine. He whipped it forward with every muscle in his body.

Fourteen years of anger repressed, fourteen years of playing by their hypocrite rules, all the fury of watching the helpless die at the hands of the powerful—he put it all into that blow. Enough with the Boy Scout shit.

The blade hissed through the air, hit the door near its edge, and blew it apart like a breaching charge. The lock and handle splintered out.

He kicked the door open. A camera was straight ahead.

Perfect. He wanted them to see. Raise the alarm at the White House.

He marched upstairs looking for the safe.

The traitors had murdered innocents and waged war against their own country, a quiet coup. Soon they would have control. Soon more would die if he didn’t make his stand. It might cost him his life. He knew that.

He knew he might have to kill someone before all this was over.

That would have been unthinkable just a day before, but he had never known treachery like this, never felt anger like this. He didn’t know who he was anymore, but he knew what he needed to do. This ended only one way. Looking down the barrel of a gun.


From THE NIGHT AGENT by Matthew Quirk, published by William Morrow. Copyright © 2019 by Matthew Quirk. Reprinted courtesy of HarperCollins Publishers.