Agent X
by Noah Boyd

Overview -

Ex-FBI agent Steve Vail navigates a maze of hidden codes and brain-teasing puzzles to stay hot on the trail of a band of Russian spies in this breathtaking follow-up to his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bricklayer

FBI-agent-turned-bricklayer Steve Vail once helped the FBI solve a brilliant extortion plot.  Read more...

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More About Agent X by Noah Boyd

Ex-FBI agent Steve Vail navigates a maze of hidden codes and brain-teasing puzzles to stay hot on the trail of a band of Russian spies in this breathtaking follow-up to his New York Times bestselling debut, The Bricklayer

FBI-agent-turned-bricklayer Steve Vail once helped the FBI solve a brilliant extortion plot. It was supposed to be a one-and-done deal. But when he's in Washington, D.C., to see Kate Bannon--an FBI assistant director--on what he thinks will be a romantic New Year's Eve date, suddenly things get complicated. The FBI has another unsolvable problem, and it has Vail's name written all over it.

A man known as Calculus, an officer at the Russian embassy, has approached the FBI claiming that he has a list of Americans who are selling confidential information to the Russian SVR. In exchange for the list, he is asking for a quarter of a million dollars for each traitor the FBI apprehends. But then Calculus informs the FBI that he has been swiftly recalled to Moscow, and the Bureau suspects the worst: the Russians have discovered what Calculus is up to, probably have access to his list, and will be hunting the traitors to kill them unless the FBI can find them first.

The FBI realizes that it has to keep the operation quiet. Once again, Vail is the perfect man, along with Kate Bannon, who would be anyone's first pick for help on an impossibly dangerous case. But finding the traitors isn't going to be easy. In fact, it's going to be downright deadly. And if the Bricklayer survives, he will have to come up with a few tricks of his own.

Agent X is a heart-pounding thrill ride with an authenticity only a writer who's an FBI veteran can provide, and Steve Vail--a man Patricia Cornwell calls a "new American hero"--is one of the smartest, toughest, and most compelling new characters to come along in many years.

  • ISBN-13: 9780061826986
  • ISBN-10: 0061826987
  • Publisher: William Morrow & Co
  • Publish Date: February 2011
  • Page Count: 391
  • Dimensions: 1.75 x 6.75 x 10 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 1.25 pounds

Related Categories

Books > Fiction > Thrillers

Publishers Weekly Reviews

Publishers Weekly® Reviews

  • Reviewed in: Publishers Weekly, page .
  • Review Date: 2010-12-06
  • Reviewer: Staff

The pseudonymous Boyd's second thriller featuring Steve Vail, a Chicago bricklayer and former FBI agent, suffers from the same defects as its predecessor, The Bricklayer—a flat central character, a numbing abundance of dialogue, and too many improbable investigative epiphanies. Once again, Vail teams with beautiful FBI assistant director Kate Bannon in Washington, D.C., this time to investigate claims made by an informant known only as Calculus. An intelligence officer at the Russian embassy, Calculus says he know the identity of several Americans who are supplying Moscow with secret U.S. military information; he will dribble out the names—as long as the FBI coughs up ,000 per spy. Vail, meanwhile, has other ideas about how to find the treasonous U.S. citizens and squeeze Calculus for more information. In the course of a long and convoluted plot, Boyd, a former FBI agent, offers little about the inner workings of the agency or its investigative techniques. (Feb.)

BookPage Reviews

Pike steals the show in Crais' latest

For years, Joe Pike served as taciturn sidekick to Robert Crais’ wisecracking L.A. detective, Elvis Cole. Cole was nominally the brains of the outfit, while Pike carried the big stick, or perhaps more precisely,was the big stick. This time out, Pike takes the starring role in Crais’ latest thriller, The Sentry. Rescuing damsels in distress is Pike’s forte, and indeed this is how The Sentry opens, with Pike intervening in a gang shakedown of a sandwich shop run by lovely Dru Rayne. Pike realizes early on that the gang will not take his interference lying down, so he decides he’d better keep an eye on things at the store; also, it should be noted that our Zen warrior is mightily attracted to Dru. Cole signs on to investigate around the edges of the situation, and discovers in passing that Dru is perhaps not who she represents herself to be, and that her presence may indeed prove lethal to Cole’s longtime friend and partner. But what to tell Pike, and when? Or is Pike so infatuated with Dru that he cannot recognize the truth, even when it engages him in a stare-down? Suspenseful, tautly plotted and diversely populated—once again, we see why Robert Crais continues to top the bestseller charts.



Noah Boyd’s first novel, The Bricklayer, was a hit with readers and critics alike, and Boyd fans eagerly awaited the follow-up. Well, it’s here, and I am happy to say Agent X  is every bit as adrenaline-fueled as its predecessor. FBI agent-turned-bricklayer Steve Vail gets drafted back into agency service, this time in conjunction with the über-secret case of a Russian intelligence officer—code name: Calculus—who claims he has a list of Americans who are selling classified documents to the Russians. He is offering the list out of the goodness of his heart—and for $250,000 per name supplied. Then, inexplicably, Calculus gets summoned back to Mother Russia, and the people on the list start dropping like swatted flies, often mere moments before their planned rescue is implemented by the FBI. This is a job for Steve Vail, who, as an independent contractor (think: plausible deniability) is blithely unconstrained by the rules and regs that tie the hands of full-time FBI guys. Boyd fans, queue up; you’re in for a wild and woolly ride!



Just in time for my return to Japan in December, I received an advance review copy of Keigo Higashino’s The Devotion of Suspect X, his first novel to be translated into English. The story centers on eccentric math teacher Ishigami and his cover-up of a murder by his next-door neighbor, a woman with whom he has become quite infatuated. The cover-up is sublime; every investigative move by the police is anticipated and countered by the brilliant mathematician, and for a time, it looks as if his neighbor will get away with her crime. But then she commits a grievous offense, at least in Ishigami’s eyes: She begins a relationship with another man. Meanwhile, the beleaguered police investigator seeks aid from a longtime ally, Yukawa, a respected physicist who was friends with Ishigami back in their university days. Yukawa is perhaps the only person equipped to deal with Ishigami in a full-on battle of wits, and it is unclear until the final moments which one will prevail. There’s terrific suspense, relentless plot development and a totally out-of-the-blue twist ending, so try, just try, to hold off taking a peek at the end!



The last Mo Hayder book I reviewed, 2005’s The Devil of Nanking, was my Mystery of the Month then, competing with books by Randy Wayne White, James O. Born and George Pelecanos. I’m pleased to say Hayder goes two-for-two (at least in my book) with her latest, Gone, which finds perennial hero Jack Caffery on the trail of a carjacker who targets vehicles containing preteen girls. Caffery is not exactly hot on the trail, however, as each lead turns into a dud, with the carjacker/kidnapper out-thinking the cops at every turn. In the meantime, Caffery’s colleague Phoebe “Flea” Marley works on a parallel theory, one that leads her into an abandoned tunnel where repeated cave-ins have created eerie subterranean rooms, ideal for the storage of the kidnapper’s paraphernalia—and perhaps the bodies of the victims. Each investigation will bear fruit, but in ways unexpected by both the protagonists and the reader. And then, just as Gone barrels full-steam toward what seems to be the denouement—bang!—there is another kidnapping, and everything the cops held as true goes flying right out the window. Hayder writes some of the most carefully plotted, gripping and downright scary books in the mystery genre, and Gone continues that tradition in fine form. 

BAM Customer Reviews