Sunday, March 6, 2011

Review: Agent X by Noah Boyd


  • Author:  Noah Boyd
  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061826987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061826986

Product Description

Ex-FBI agent Steve Vail navigates a maze of hidden codes and brain-teasing puzzles to stay hot on the trail of a band of Russian spies in this breathtaking follow-up to his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bricklayer
FBI-agent-turned-bricklayer Steve Vail once helped the FBI solve a brilliant extortion plot. It was supposed to be a one-and-done deal. But when he's in Washington, D.C., to see Kate Bannon—an FBI assistant director—on what he thinks will be a romantic New Year's Eve date, suddenly things get complicated. The FBI has another unsolvable problem, and it has Vail's name written all over it.

A man known as Calculus, an officer at the Russian embassy, has approached the FBI claiming that he has a list of Americans who are selling confidential information to the Russian SVR. In exchange for the list, he is asking for a quarter of a million dollars for each traitor the FBI apprehends. But then Calculus informs the FBI that he has been swiftly recalled to Moscow, and the Bureau suspects the worst: the Russians have discovered what Calculus is up to, probably have access to his list, and will be hunting the traitors to kill them unless the FBI can find them first.

The FBI realizes that it has to keep the operation quiet. Once again, Vail is the perfect man, along with Kate Bannon, who would be anyone's first pick for help on an impossibly dangerous case. But finding the traitors isn't going to be easy. In fact, it's going to be downright deadly. And if the Bricklayer survives, he will have to come up with a few tricks of his own.

Agent X is a heart-pounding thrill ride with an authenticity only a writer who's an FBI veteran can provide, and Steve Vail—a man Patricia Cornwell calls a "new American hero"—is one of the smartest, toughest, and most compelling new characters to come along in many years.

About the Author

Noah Boyd is the author of the New York Times bestseller The Bricklayer and a former FBI agent who spent more than twenty years working some of the Bureau's toughest investigations, including the Green River Killer case and the Highland Park Strangler case (which he's credited with solving). He currently works on cold cases when he's not writing. He lives in New England.

My Review

An ebook galley copy of Agent X was provided to me by Harper Collins through Net Galley for the purpose of this review.

I have previously read Noah Boyd's first book in this series, The Bricklayer which was very helpful for understanding the background of the main relationship in this novel between the Bricklayer, Steve Vail and FBI assistant director Kate Bannon.  While I did find Noah Boyd's first book, The Bricklayer, to be more thrilling than his second outing Agent X, I am still a huge fan.  Steve Vail is a character who is somewhat similar to Lee Child's Jack Reacher and Robert Crais' Joe Pike except that he wears his heart on his sleeve.

At the beginning of Agent X Steve Vail shows up in Washington on New Years Eve to take Kate Bannon to a New Year's Eve party...she wasn't expecting him since she had broken off their relationship previously.  Of course before she can drop him at the airport he is solving a local missing child case.  Before he can leave town he is approached by the FBI to assist them in the hunt for Agent X.  A Russian embassy staffer with the code name Calculus has approached the FBI with a deal to provide the names of American agents selling information to the Russians.  A series of puzzles that only Steve Vail seems able to solve provide the background for the initial contacts with the Russian agents.  The Bricklayer has actually stayed behind in Washington to help prove that Kate did not attempt suicide several months earlier...something that she does not know that he even knows about.  Their relationship is central to the story and it helps to portray the  Bricklayer as a human being, not just an amazingly brilliant but unable to follow the rules ex-FBI agent.

Lots of action, an abundance of interesting twists and turns but not so many characters that it gets confusing.  I really enjoyed Agent X and I am looking forward to the next Bricklayer adventure by Noah Boyd.

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