COLD BARREL ZERO by Matthew Quirk


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Former combat medic Tom Byrne finds himself in the ultimate squeeze when he's caught between the FBI, which falsely arrests him for stealing government secrets, and a Special Ops veteran he once fought with who's accused of committing terrorist acts.

Threatened and cajoled by both sides, who should Byrne trust? Hayes, the man behind the shocking theft of intelligence files containing the cover identities of every U.S. operative in the field? He swears to his old friend Byrne that he's only acting to clear his name. Or Riggs, leader of a government task force that says Hayes was responsible for a massacre of women and children in Afghanistan and now is putting the U.S. at grave risk of a terrorist attack? More than 10 years after returning home from the war, Byrne is still recovering from the guilt of "los[ing] myself in the killing when I should have been saving lives." Now he has to survive a deadly contest of wills involving drone attacks, fierce car chases and boat getaways, secret codes, a female martyr who may or may not be fake, and frozen bank accounts (his). Quirk, author of a pair of so-so urban thrillers involving callow protagonists (The Directive, 2014, etc.), takes a major step forward with this far more sophisticated effort. The story is expertly stripped down, the action relentless, and the characters multilayered. Having Byrne narrate his sections while everything else is told in the third person is a bit awkward, but Quirk makes it work.

A lethal game of cat and mouse fuels Quirk's third and best novel, a military spy thriller in which one all-out conspiracy is met by another.

Pub Date: March 29th, 2016
ISBN: 978-0-316-25921-7
Page count: 384pp
Publisher: Mulholland Books/Little, Brown
Review Posted Online:
Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15th, 2016


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