THE BRICKLAYER by Noah Boyd
“The one thing I’ve learned on this job is never to underestimate a man’s capacity for evil. Even a good man’s.”
Review by Kirstin Merrihew (SEP 10, 2010)
Steve Vail, the title character in Noah Boyd’s The Bricklayer, throws bank robbers through plate glass windows in his spare time. Although he was an FBI special agent for three years earlier in the decade, he didn’t work well with authority and the association was terminated.
Now, his day job slapping cement between oblong red things in Chicago is interrupted by a woman who introduces herself as Kate Bannon, FBI Deputy Assistant Director, and she persuades Vail to go to Washington to hear out Director Lasker and Assistant Director Kaulcrick. They want to give Vail his badge and gun back. They need him to find a rogue agent who appears to have absconded with two millions dollars of federal money instead of delivering it to a fiendishly clever and murderous person or persons called “Rubaco Pentad.” There is some suspicion that the missing agent might actually belong to Rubaco Pentad, but a previous agent who earlier was sent into a perilous situation with one million dollars in payoff met a different fate, so Vail is cautious about jumping to any conclusions.
Why is the FBI sending out its agents with millions? Because Rubaco Pentad has already killed some prominent people and has threatened to take out more unless there is strict compliance with each of its demands. After Vail starts his investigation — for the challenge rather than renewed, formal employment — the Pentad demands that he make the next drop. This time, with three million in cash….
The Bricklayer is highly cinematic. It’s also rich in plot twists and some MacGyver-like ingenuity. For example: the obstacle courses (or rat runs) the Pentad forces those delivering its extortion money to engage are giant “Mousetraps” that require some agile mental and physical gymnastics. The final solution to this Pentad crime spree may not quite match the potential of the earlier set-up in terms of drama and imagination, but Boyd deserves kudos for keeping his basic story in the realm of the credible instead of sailing into something, uh, Scarpetta-ish or Dirk Pitt-ish. That noted, Vail himself is perhaps a little too much of a near superman. However, he joins a long list of such characters who headline successful fiction series. And, more importantly, most of the time his intelligent analysis of the criminal mind and his prowess on the field of violence are just the ticket in The Bricklayer. Unfortunately but not fatally, the least convincing of the usual elements in this thriller-with-a-movie-in-mind is the build-up of the attraction between Steve and Kate. Boyd seems at home concocting intricate crimes and their solutions, but his “Moonlighting”-style repartee is sometimes rather lame…although both characters and their teamwork are appealing and comfortable, even though familiar/formulaic.
Overall, В The Bricklayer is an adrenaline high. It’s a quick and entertaining roller coaster ride. It’s a fine start to a series that I look forward to continuing, perhaps both in print and on the screen….
|AMAZON READER RATING:||from 82 readers|
|PUBLISHER:||Harper; Reprint edition (August 31, 2010)|
|AVAILABLE AS A KINDLE BOOK?||YES! Start Reading Now!|
|AUTHOR WEBSITE:||Noah Boyd|
Interview with Noah Boyd
|MORE ON MOSTLYFICTION:||Another good spy read:
The Book of Spies by Gayle Lynds