Jonathan Quinn is the best at what he does: making bodies disappear. Within the espionage world, his reputation is impeccable.
There was a time, though, when that reputation was still being built under his mentor, Durrie. A time when the very man who had taught Quinn all he knew could have derailed the young cleaner’s future.
Fifteen years ago, Quinn was offered a job. On the surface, a straightforward mission to stop a terrorist. But the client gave Quinn the additional task of taking on Durrie as his number two, as a last chance for the veteran agent to be rehabilitated.
Durrie had been on a downward spiral, going from being a highly respected operative to an unreliable has-been. These changes threatened to destroy everything—not only in Quinn’s life, but Orlando’s, too. She was Durrie’s girlfriend, and Quinn’s best friend.
Both she and Quinn were desperate to help Durrie return to the person he once was.
They hoped this job would be the answer.
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Discuss the evolution of freelance operative and professional “cleaner,” Jonathan Quinn.
When Quinn shows up in The Cleaner, the first book of the series, he’s been in the business for, I think, just under fifteen years. His first five years were spent as an apprentice, then, after being on his own, he becomes one of the best body removal specialist in the espionage world. To be clear, he’s not an assassin, though if he needs to act, he will. He’s the guy you hire to “clean” the scene of an operation so that it looks like nothing happened. This includes making whatever bodies have been left behind disappear forever. With the exception of his apprentice, Nate, from the first time we see Quinn, he’s basically a loner. But, over the course of the series (twelve novels, several short stories and a novella, so far), he reunites with Orlando, the woman he has secretly loved for years. With her and Nate, they become a team that only gets better and better at what they do.
How did the relationship between Quinn and Orlando originate?
Quinn and Orlando started off as apprentices at the same time, for mentors where friends. So, they often worked together. Quinn found himself drawn to her from the very start. But his mentor, Durrie, made the first move, beginning a relationship with Orlando that left Quinn out in the cold. Five years later, after a tragedy that threatened to divide Quinn and Orlando forever, Quinn has little choice but to go to her for help. From that moment, their relationship begins to mend until it becomes something even more than Quinn could have ever hoped.
Who are the members of Quinn’s team?
Orlando, of course, who is both a badass in the field and pretty handy with computers. Nate, who is Quinn’s apprentice in the first several books, and partner in those that come after. Daeng, a former Thai monk who is pretty chill even in highly stressful situations. And, most recently, Jar, (my current favorite character) a young Thai woman who is on the autism spectrum, and is even better at all things cyber than Orlando. She’s also getting better at working in the field, too. There are other operatives who make occasional appearances, but these are the core members of the team.
Discuss the development of the series featuring Nate in Night Man.
It wasn’t too long into the Quinn series that I began to think about featuring his apprentice Nate in his own stories. The problem was coming up with an angle that would set his books apart from Quinn’s. A few novels ago, an event happened in the Quinn novels that opened up an avenue I hadn’t even considered before. And from that came Night Man. I’ve also been able to set up up so that these “personal missions” of Nates come between jobs he does with Quinn, allowing him to continue on in the Quinn books, too. I’d tell you more but, you know…spoilers.
Did anything stand out in your writing process during Night Man?
A few things. The Night Man books—well, book at the moment—will all be more crime based thrillers as opposed to spy thrillers like Quinn. This have given me a whole new area to dive into, which is exciting. I love that Nate is driven to fight for those who can’t fight for themselves by…let’s just call it…a voice in his head that he can’t say no to. The stories are also told in first person by Nate, which is different than the Quinn books, too. I absolutely love writing in first person. Finally, Night Man was a blast to write. I’m not saying my other novels weren’t fun, too. It’s just that Night Man was enjoyable from beginning to end.
“Stay faithful to the stories in your head” – Paula Hawkins
In addition to the recently released NIGHT MAN, Battles has just published THE DAMAGED, another novel in his Jonathan Quinn spy thriller series. This time the story takes place fifteen years ago, when Quinn was still establishing himself as a cleaner—the person who makes bodies disappear—and centers around his deteriorating relationship with his mentor, who may or may not be going mad. A dangerous thing in a world full of guns and secrets and death.
Brett Battles is a Barry Award-winning author of over thirty novels, including Rewinder, the Jonathan Quinn series, the Logan Harper series, and the Project Eden series. He’s also the coauthor, with Robert Gregory Browne, of the Alexandra Poe series. You can learn more at his website: