In the opening chapter of the crime-terror novel Bricklayer, Steve Vail, a former FBI agent turned brick mason, is making a routine transaction at his branch bank. Suddenly, two armed men enter the bank intent on robbery. But the robbery goes bad for the criminals when police arrive beckoned by the bank’s silent alarm. In their desperation, the crooks start brandishing their weapons and menacing the terrified customers. Vail decides to take on the crooks and single-handedly puts them out of commission. Then, to the astonishment of the police SWAT team that is waiting outside ready to assault the bank, Vail then proceeds to throw the robbers, first one and then the other, through the bank’s front windows . Vail then exits with the customers and disappears.
That is the reader’s introduction to the bricklayer Steve Vail and to the fiction of the Noah Boyd, which is the pen name of a former FBI agent who wishes to remain anonymous for the time being. This novel is the pilot for crime series featuring Vail. (Note: Sales must be good because the second volume of the series is already in print.)
After introducing Vail, the novel gets down to business—first there is the cold-blooded murder of a tabloid reporter by a member of a mysterious group called Rubaco Pentad, then there is the demand of extortion money on the threat of additional murders. The FBI is under pressure to solve the case but has no clues to work on so they decide to trap the extortionists during a phony money transfer, but when that fails the FBI is stuck.
An up-and-coming assistant, Kate Bannon, proposes a unique way forward. She has identifed Vail as the shy hero who single-handedly foiled a bank-robbery and she recruits him to help the FBI solve the case. Kate knows that since Vail is no longer an FBI agent he can use methods not in the official playbook, which might prove useful. Vail’s methods will severely bend the FBI’s rules and cause rumbles all the way to the White House.
Murder and extortion is the theme of this novel. The action is fast, furious and violent. The writing is direct and to-the-point with no frils. There is an absolute minimum of character development and or psychological ruminations—just more murders, terror and action than even the most avid crime fiction reader could want. In the end, the author ties together all the intricate plot elements in a clever way that left me satisfied. This is a good read and could easily be a hit to pass time during a summer vacation or airport layover.
Day 33: The Bricklayer (Noah Boyd, a pen name) (2010).