Four Shots in the Night
A True Story of Spies, Murder, and Justice in Northern Ireland
How the death of a spy in the IRA led to the largest murder investigation in British history.
The brutal 1986 killing of Frank Hegarty, a British spy who had infiltrated the IRA, began a decades-long search for justice. Years later, it was reported that his murderer might have been another British spy: that there were two secret agents inside the IRA and one had killed the other.
This led, in 2016, to Operation Kenova, a vast criminal investigation into the activities of the agent known as ‘Stakeknife’. There followed protests, far-reaching changes to British law, bitter condemnation from a US Congressional commission, and rumours that one of the country’s most senior politicians, the Sinn Féin leader Martin McGuinness, might have been personally involved in this particular murder.
Drawing on interviews with those involved and new documents, Four Shots in the Night tells a riveting story not just of this one murder but of the victim’s role in the decades-long conflict that defined him—the Troubles. And the questions it tackles are even larger: how did the Troubles really come to an end? Was it a feat of diplomatic negotiation, as we’ve been told—or did spies play the decisive role? And how far can, or should, a spy go, for the good of their country?