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Agent X Mass Market Paperback – Bargain Price, July 26, 2011
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Noah Boyd on How to Catch a Serial Killer
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--This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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 --This text refers to an out of print or unavailable edition of this title.
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
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...
The first chapter was interesting and mysterious and set the scene for what I thought was going to be a story with a strong female character who teamed with a strong male character. By the end of chapter 2/3, my initial impression was turned on its head. Kate became an awestruck bystander to the big strong Steve (sorry, I can't even remember his name now; I've been actively trying to forget this read). He had ALL of the answers to the most out there puzzles...unrealistically so and much like Horatio on CSI Miami and Dinofrio on Law and Order CI, which is why I don't watch either show. Meanwhile, Kate would be there by his side so he could save her life when they came under gunfire. And they had this constant relationship tension that was so awful it was the first time I remember rooting AGAINST the two main characters getting together.
And did I mention that "Steve" had such a disdain for authority and protocol that his level of rebellion actually became quite annoying. We "got it" right away and didn't need a constant reminder.
Weak female character aside, the story itself went on and on and on, one death-defying scenarion after another, to the point where it became completey uninteresting. I think I skimmed the last 20 pages and didn't even care how it ended. And now reading tis review, I realize I should have stopped reading early on. I know how negative this all sounds. I'm just trying to save someone else from making the same mistake. Normally, I would even feel kind of bad for criticizing someone's work so severely, but in this case, it's well deserved.
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WHEN IS THE NEXT BOOK COMING OUT.