56: Agent X by Noah Boyd
FBI agent turned bricklayer. How's that for concept? Crazy, huh?
One wonders if author Noah Boyd, himself a former FBI agent, actually encountered that scenario during his career with the Feds.
However the idea came to him -- out of some past reality or the fertility of his own imagination, it works. Two books into this series, first, The Bricklayer, and now, Agent X, and I am on board.
As I mentioned in my blog on The Bricklayer stumbling on to these thrillers has a similar feel, the same frisson, that I encountered more than decade ago with Lee Child's Jack Reacher novels.
What do I like about them? Notably, there is Steve Vail, the bricklayer -- straight out of the Clint Eastwood mold of rugged, independent hero -- who is summoned by the FBI to solve cases they can't break. I love his passive-aggressive approach, the way he sends them off on a wild goose chase, while he holds back some critical piece of information that will help him unravel the case.
Vail, who is driven to succeed by his father's emotional abuse, can't help himself, yet there's a part of him that enjoys manipulating authority.
I like the Moonlighting-like interplay between Vail and the FBI's Kate Bannon; the sexual tension, the banter that leads to the bedroom.
I like the mysteries, the puzzles that lead to more puzzles and Vail's unwillingness to settle for the obvious solution, his determination to solve the crime after everyone thinks it has been solved.
Boyd is far more skillful than the most authors with only two books to their credits. He handles the pacing deftly, the characters are distinct and the story lines are plausible within the confines of the genre.
Yep, I'm on the bandwagon. Let's hope Boyd will be writing, and I'll be reading, Steve Vail thrillers for years to come. The bricklayer is solid.