Agent X by Noah Boyd – 9780061826986 — ****
Time to Read: About a week
Publication date: 8 February 2011
When former FBI Agent Steve Vail arrives in Washington D.C., he is hoping to rekindle a cooled romance with the FBI’s assistant director Kate Bannon, but instead finds himself helping her on a highly sensitive case. The FBI has been contacted by an officer at the Russian embassy–a man who has identified himself only as “Calculus”–who has intel on a number of American agents who are working as spies for the Russian SVR. Shortly after providing the FBI with clues that will lead to the identity of the first double agent, Calculus was whisked away to Moscow, leaving the FBI to believe that he has been compromised. Still determined to discover the names of the traitors in their midst, the FBI asks Vail to help Bannon follow the clues and uncover the names of the spies before they can be eliminated by their Russian handlers.
Following the clues–but not necessarily the rules–Vail begins to uncover the names of those double agents. He and Bannon are in a race to catch the traitors before they can be eliminated, and find themselves risking their own lives to unravel the mystery before it is too late.
I haven’t read many “thriller spy-novels,” as I have described this book, but after reading Noah Boy’s Agent X, I can’t say why that is. This is any James Bond fan’s genre, and as a Bond fan, I will be sure to read more like this one in the future.
Agent X isn’t all edge-of-your-seat action, nor is it all puzzling mystery or attempted romance (on the part of the hero Steve Vail). It is a captivating novel that draws you in with the aid of all of those techniques and keeps you reading–sometimes laughing, sometimes wide-eyed with suspense–until the very end. An attentive reader will be able to unravel some of the mystery on his or her own, but there are enough twists and turns to prevent total predictability, leaving just enough clues to make the reader want to read on, thinking: “So, am I right?”
Steve Vail is a great hero, and an excellent character. He is imperfect, and that makes him seem more real than even the great Agent 007. He isn’t described as the strongest, smartest, bravest and most attractive man on the planet. He isn’t infallible, and as hard as he keeps trying, he doesn’t always get the girl (in his case, there is just one girl: Kate Bannon). The rest of Noah Boyd’s characters are equally imperfect, and are, therefore, perfectly believable.
I would highly recommend this title to anyone who is a fan of the thriller/spy novel genre. A fan of James Bond or The Da Vinci Code will thoroughly enjoy Agent X for its spy novel mystery and action that is peppered with gunshots and explosions plus a there-but-not romance that manages to deepen the story rather than soften it.
I should note that this is not Noah Boyd’s first novel. Steve Vail and Kate Bannon also appear in The Bricklayer: a novel I have yet to read. If my review of Agent X intrigues you, I would suggest giving Noah Boyd’s first book a try while you wait for this one to be available in stores (on February 8, 2011). I plan on picking up The Bricklayer as soon as it is available in trade paper on December 28th, and if I had to wait much longer than that, I’d probably have the mass market in my hands or a hardcover on order right now.
Check out Noah Boyd’s author page at Harper Collins Publishers.
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