Sunday, April 03, 2011

Boyd's The Bricklayer recalls Lee Child's The Killing Floor

Book 34: The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd

Reading Noah Boyd's debut thriller, The Bricklayer, stirred memories of 1997 and Lee Child's first Jack Reacher novel, The Killing Floor.

There are similarities between Reacher and Boyd's main character, Steve Vail. Reacher worked for the military police. Vail is a former FBI agent. Both are loners, who distrust authority. Both are have keen, analytic minds, yet are also capable of extraordinary physical feats. Both get the girl.

Which is not to suggest that Boyd's work is a mere copy of Child's. It's not, but it is in a similar vein and readers who enjoy Child's writing are certain to like Boyd's work as well.

The Bricklayer is an exceptional first novel for Boyd, a former FBI agent. While improbable (as most of these novels are), the plot is sound, the pacing strong and the characters well drawn.  Boyd displays a particularly nimble touch in the relationship between Vail and FBI Deputy Assistant Director Kate Bannon. The sexual tension, emerging in a lively banter between the two, is reminiscent of Moonlighting

He's also a fine hand at humor, which surfaces throughout the thriller.  

The second Steve Vail novel is now on the shelves and will soon make its way to the top of my reading list. I am eager to see if Boyd's second act is a good as his debut.

Book 35: The Girl in the Green Raincoat by Laura Lippman

The Girl in the Green Raincoat was originally serialized in the New York Times, which means it is both brief -- a novella, really -- and has the lovely pacing necessary for a literary work that must keep the reader returning day after day until the story's end.

It features Tess Monaghan, the Baltimore P.I., who appears in about half the novels Lippman writes. Tess is pregnant and confined to bed, setting up a Rear Window-type mystery.

Yet the mystery is incidental here. What's more important is that we learn about Tess's baby, her relationship with her boyfriend Crow and a little history of how her parents met.  Such information is critical to anyone who follows an on-going series and there's plenty here for Tess Monaghan fans until the next full-length novel.

While this slender volume is a must-read, at a mere 158 pages, it does leave readers wanting more. Much more.

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