Monday, February 14, 2011


Noah Boyd will be signing books on Wednesday, Feb. 16 at 7 p.m. at Schuler Books and Music, 1982 W. Grand River, Okemos

Noah Boyd’s latest crime novel, “Agent X” (William Morrow, $24.99), should come with a warning label: ”Don’t start this book unless you plan on staying up all night.”

The complicated, mesmerizing tale is the sequel to his best-selling debut, “The Bricklayer”, which introduced Steve Vail, former FBI agent.

Vail had previously worked out of the FBI’s Detroit office, but has voluntarily left the agency. He’s a maverick investigator who recently helped them solve a major domestic terrorist extortion case.

He goes to Washington D.C., planning on a romantic New Year’s Eve date with Kate Bannon, assistant director of the FBI. Of course, that doesn’t happen; soon, Vail and Bannon get involved in a complex espionage case.

A Russian embassy member known as Calculus has contacted the FBI, offering to supply them a list of names of Americans who’ve been leaking confidential information to the Russians.

Calculus is called back to Russia, but his extortion demands are still viable – the FBI will pay the money but wants to plug the leaks.

The results are initially satisfying, but soon turn deadly; Vail and Bannon have to work diligently with other FBI members as they try to stay one step ahead of a devious criminal.

This isn’t your usual cerebral espionage tale even though there are many clever plot twists and taut confrontations. The pulse-pounding action never stops, the dialogue is snappy and interesting sub-plots abound. It’s more of a classic anti-hero thriller, with a touch of romance thrown in.

Vail is a likable, strong character who spots clues that others have overlooked. Bannon initially survives a clever attempt on her life; her problems multiply. The introduction of FBI agent Luke Burlaw, who worked with Vail five years earlier in Detroit, adds additional depth.

Noah Boyd is the pseudonym of Paul Lindsay, who served in the Detroit FBI office for 20 years and was credited with solving the Highland Park Strangler case. Under his real name, he’s written “Witness to the Truth” and five other highly entertaining thrillers.

“The Bricklayer”, (Harper, $11.99) is now out in paperback; to fully appreciate Vail’s efforts, it’s best to read Boyd’s books in order

This review was originally published by the Lansing State Journal on Sunday, February, 13 2011.

Ray Walsh, owner of East Lansing’s Curious Book Shop, has reviewed crime novels and noir thrillers regularly since 1987.

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