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AGENT X
by Noah Boyd
William Morrow, February 2011
399 pages
$24.99
ISBN: 0061826987


Buy in the UK | Buy in Canada

Steve Vail doesn't like working for anyone but himself. That's why he left the FBI in the first place. Now he lays brick in Chicago and takes pride in doing that job very well, without a lot of fuss. He's one of those guys with a certain code, and he lives by his own code, no matter what others think or do. One can see why he didn't like the FBI.

The FBI has very mixed feelings about Vail. They love his results. They are not nearly as happy with the ways in which he gets those results. Still, they have come to him once before (THE BRICKLAYER) and now they want him back again. Someone is extorting very large amounts of money from the FBI. In return, for every deposit a name is given, the name of a Russian spy. Of course the FBI wants that information - they just don't like have to pay so much for it. They want to figure out who the big name is, take care of the problem, and not have to deal with the embarrassment of the whole story going public. Not to mention that the FBI believes that the "attempted suicide" of Assistant Director Kate Bannon was staged and was really an attempt to kill her. This, more than the FBI's public image problem, is what convinces Vail to go back to DC.

Vail has an eye for the big picture, the forest over the trees, the patterns that people leave unknowingly. He deciphers the clues left for the FBI, and still the moles are killed before any valuable information can be garnered. Compounding his frustration is a case he's working on with an old friend, a cold case. Then there's Kate. They tried to have a relationship. It didn't go so well. He's trying to figure out how to make it work, and still work with her on the FBI case. They both struggle with this.

Boyd writes very well. His grasp of character is stunning. His plotting ability is superb. There is nothing in this book that could not actually happen, could not be going on right now. Scary thought. One hopes that there is a Steve Vail somewhere, working on the right side (if there is such a thing) of the battle.

Reviewer's note: I paid full price cash money for this book. There are probably fewer than 10 books a year that I will do that for. Anything Boyd writes is on that list.

P.J. Coldren lives in northern lower Michigan where she reads and reviews widely across the mystery genre when she isn't working in her local hospital pharmacy.

Reviewed by P.J. Coldren, February 2011

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Contact: Yvonne Klein (ymk@reviewingtheevidence.com)


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