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Agent X Hardcover – February 8, 2011


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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: William Morrow; First Edition edition (February 8, 2011)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0061826987
  • ISBN-13: 978-0061826986
  • Product Dimensions: 9.3 x 6.3 x 1.4 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.2 pounds
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (103 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #836,427 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review


Noah Boyd on How to Catch a Serial Killer

Mystery Readers,

Thought you might like to hear about my last case with the FBI.

The first three bodies were found in the abandoned Monterey Motel in Highland Park, a small, once affluent city surrounded by Detroit. But the public concern didn’t reach full pitch until the count reached eight, all the victims raped and strangled. That’s when I was called in.

My first impulse when tackling any problem is looking for a way to slice through the Gordian knot, a shortcut seeker’s most reliable tool. What I had learned by working on the Green River Murders and studying other serial killings was to search for a surviving victim; it’s how Gary Ridgeway and Ted Bundy had both been caught.

The first thing I asked for at the Highland Park PD was any tips that had been called in—a technique I had learned during my three months in Seattle. After an exchange of confused looks, one of the detectives said that he thought they were in the third floor (long-abandoned) bathroom. Inside a twisted, dusty filing cabinet, I found about a hundred of them.

One had been called in by a woman who had been raped and then severely choked by a man she knew only as “Tony” before she escaped by running down a busy street naked in the middle of the winter. The assault had taken place in the basement of an abandoned Howard Johnson’s restaurant, which was immediately adjacent to the Monterey Motel. Being an investigator of keen insight, it occurred to me that Tony was somebody we needed to find.

It being Detroit, the woman had used an alias to report the crime and “Tony” would turn out to be a nickname without a single etymological connection to the killer’s true identity. These—let’s call them—big city idiosyncrasies, caused a two-month delay before we were able to arrest Benjamin Atkins and obtain a confession to 11th homicides, along with a planned 12th to celebrate his birthday in two weeks.

--Noah Boyd

From Booklist

Steve Vail, once an ace FBI agent, now a bricklayer (The Bricklayer, 2009), arrives in Washington to take Kate Bannon, the bureau’s assistant director, to an embassy soiree. But his romantic mission is sidelined by an urgent summons from the bureau: a Russian embassy staffer, code-named Calculus, is offering to name Americans feeding sensitive information to Russian intelligence. But no sooner than the bureau accepts the Russian’s terms, he is spirited off to Moscow, presumably to be tortured into admitting what he has done. Steve and Kate must identify the moles and reel them in before the Russians snuff them. But before that can happen, Vail must solve the many puzzles that Calculus uses to conceal information. Thriller fans get an endlessly twisting plot strewn with chases, gun battles, and explosions. Calculus’ puzzles are engaging, and the bureau’s procedural and bureaucratic thickets sound real. Cynics will enjoy the portrayal of all FBI administrators as butt-covering careerists, but Vail, equal parts Sherlock Holmes and Dirty Harry, strains credulity. Not as strong as The Bricklayer, but fans won’t want to give up on the series yet. --Thomas Gaughan

More About the Author

Noah Boyd is a former FBI agent who spent more than twenty years working on 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.

Customer Reviews

This is a great, complicated spy novel full of suspense, action, and quips.
Barbara Pengelly
I liked it enough to buy the first book, and I'm looking forward to reading the next entry in the Bricklayer series.
Timothy J. Mccarthy
While I enjoyed much of the action, I often found the book went too far in terms of straining my sense of credulity.
bobbewig

Most Helpful Customer Reviews

40 of 41 people found the following review helpful By Sandy Kay VINE VOICE on January 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Agent X might have the perfect thriller combination of enough action to keep you up late reading when you should be asleep without being scary enough to keep you awake at night. Reading it is like watching an action movie where the good guys pull off completely unrealistic stunts without getting themselves shot or blown up and you know it's not real but you love it anyway.

That's a long-winded way of saying this is not an FBI procedural mystery. You have to suspend your sense of disbelief to fully enjoy this book. You'll miss all the fun if you fuss about whether anyone could figure out the clues that fast or escape unharmed from the ambush.

This is the second novel featuring The Bricklayer Steve Vail. This book starts not long after the end of the first book, but the story stands alone so it isn't absolutely necessary to have read the first book before reading this one. I enjoyed the first one too and think you'll want to read it if you haven't already.
Vail is a former FBI agent turned bricklayer. It wasn't repeated in this book but he had been fired for insubordination before the events of the first book. He hates management and likes to do things his own way without interference. This book gets a little deeper into his psyche than the first one, but it's still more about the action than the emotions.

The first book had a lot of physical action and this one, though it has plenty of action, is more about following clues and more teamwork with Bannon and another of Vail`s friends from his FBI days. I thought the book was more interesting with different personalities and relationships for Vail to bounce off and not just do the solo cowboy thing.
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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful By bobbewig TOP 1000 REVIEWERVINE VOICE on September 29, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
In Agent X, the follow up to Boyd's The Bricklayer, superhero Steve Vail is once again called on to save the day when no one else can. Without going into specifics about the plot, Agent X has Vail and his partner-in-crimesolving, FBI AD Kate Bannon, hunting down a sly and lethal Russian spy.

The book's plot will keep you turning the pages at a fast pace, as the story is loaded with action. If action and plot twists are of primary interest to you, you'll probably enjoy Agent X a lot. However, if strong character development and a plot that is highly realistic are of at least equal importance, than you're probably going to find Agent X to be somewhat disappointing. I consider myself in this latter camp. While I enjoyed much of the action, I often found the book went too far in terms of straining my sense of credulity. Similarly, while the characters are serviceable, they are not very "real" people; and the dialogue Boyd has them speak, particularly regarding the bantering between Vail and Bannon, is a bit pedestrian.

Overall, for me, Agent X is a mixed bag of good elements and not so good elements. As such, while I didn't dislike Agent X, I didn't like it enough to recommend highly.
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16 of 19 people found the following review helpful By Anonymous VINE VOICE on January 28, 2011
Format: Hardcover Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
Got this on Monday afternoon and was finished on Tuesday afternoon! Mr. Boyd does a great job of creating all this suspense and connecting a plot line that keeps nagging at you, what's going to happen next? I have to keep reading! I wouldn't say any new ground was broken with this novel but the writing and story are solid making for a very entertaining read. The characters are all smart, there is witty dialogue and the story itself moves along at a quick pace. The only beef that I have with this story/series is that I think the Steve Vale character needs a prequel; there are so many references to him walking away from the FBI I am constantly wondering why, what's the back story? Having also read Mr. Boyd's first novel, The Bricklayer, I can see that he is developing as a writer and I think any future novels can only get better! I would recommend this book to anyone who loves a crime drama that focuses on puzzling out the clues, enjoys a little witty banter between characters or just likes a well-told story.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful By ArchEtech on March 9, 2011
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Steve Vail is the next Jack Reacher. I say that only because I've been searching for another series with a similar character and writing style as Lee Child's Jack Reacher Books as I've read all of them. This book series has the same lone wolf type of character who with smarts and brute force does whatever he has to do, to do the right thing. Even if that means breaking some rules!

The plot is on par with the more complicated and witty of the Reacher series but definitely with a style and story line of characters all it's own. If you read the series of books by Lee Child, Vince Flynn, Brad Thor, AJ Tada etc, you will love this series. Start with the Bricklayer...
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful By James Casey on January 16, 2012
Format: Mass Market Paperback
Agent X was the last novel by FBI Agent turned fiction writer Paul Lindsay, who died in September. He wrote several successful novels under his real name (Witness to the Truth, etc.) before using Boyd to introduce a new hero, former FBI Agent turned bricklayer Steve Vail. For my money, his original character Mike Devlin was a more authentic version of how Lindsay saw himself; a sort of anti-establishment FBI Agent with no time for the petty bureaucracy of Bureau politics, as he saw it from his perch as a tough talking street agent. Never pretentious about his ability to write, he was said to have done it for the money, not the prose, a typical Paul Lindsay shot at the literary elite. Proud of his Irish heritage, Lindsay was an emotional Irishman, and a good guy; jamesmcasey.com.
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