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The Bricklayer
Noah Boyd

Harper / Harper Collins
December 28, 2010/ ISBN

Reviewed by Dennis Collins

After three years as an FBI agent, Steve Vail is dismissed for insubordination. He wasn’t a bad agent, perhaps just a little too moral for the bureaucracy. And now the bureau wants him back. It seems that a self-proclaimed domestic terrorist organization called the “Rubaco Pentad” has targeted the FBI and is killing off high profile citizens and demanding huge amounts of cash or the murders will escalate. But ex-agent Vail has begun a new and uncomplicated life as a bricklayer and is enjoying his simple existence.

Newly appointed FBI Deputy Director Kate Bannon is sent to persuade Vail to return as a special agent reporting exclusively to her and subject only to her and the Director’s authority. Vail accepts on the condition that he is allowed to operate alone and that his services be pro bono.

The FBI bungled their first attempt to thwart the extortionists resulting in the death of one of their young agents. The second effort didn’t fare much better when the agent along with the two million dollar ransom simply disappeared. The bureau wants answers to the whereabouts of their agent and they want their money back.
The Rubaco Pentad’s next demand is that Vail deliver another three million dollars or more people will die.

Vail knows that he must make his own rules if he is to have any chance of neutralizing his antagonists and he’s painfully aware that he will be jeopardizing Deputy Director Bannon’s future with the bureau if he confides in her and she sanctions his unorthodox methods. Vail and Bannon seem to be forming a bond that goes beyond their duties but Vail can’t allow that to interfere with his focus. Bannon is as determined as Vail to bring the perpetrators to justice and continually urges Vail to push forward… with her tagging along of course.

Matching wits with the evil master of Rubaco Pentad is a serious challenge and Vail must use chessmaster planning and anticipation just to keep pace. Indicators point to his adversary having inside knowledge and so Vail must be doubly vigilant with every move he makes.

The thing that sets Steve Vail apart from other renegade heroes is that he doesn’t seem burdened by excessive angst. His demeanor is quite cavalier and he never seems to get too upset with the incompetence that surrounds him. He recognizes it, analyzes it, and finds a way around it. His stoicism serves him well by allowing him to concentrate on the goal rather than the obstacles.

Kate Bannon is another very good character in this book. She is strong, confident, and shares Vail’s views of right and wrong.

I found this book extremely entertaining partly because there was always a “feel good” aura surrounding the protagonists. It is very well written and extremely fast paced. I liked everything about it.

Reviewer's Note:

Reviewed 2011
© 2011