About Me

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Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada
I am a lawyer in Melfort, Saskatchewan, Canada who enjoys reading, especially mysteries. Since 2000 I have been writing personal book reviews. This blog includes my reviews, information on and interviews with authors and descriptions of mystery bookstores I have visited. I strive to review all Saskatchewan mysteries. Other Canadian mysteries are listed under the Rest of Canada. As a lawyer I am always interested in legal mysteries. I have a separate page for legal mysteries. Occasionally my reviews of legal mysteries comment on the legal reality of the mystery. You can follow the progression of my favourite authors with up to 15 reviews. Each year I select my favourites in "Bill's Best of ----". As well as current reviews I am posting reviews from 2000 to 2011. Below my most recent couple of posts are the posts of Saskatchewan mysteries I have reviewed alphabetically by author. If you only want a sentence or two description of the book and my recommendation when deciding whether to read the book look at the bold portion of the review. If you would like to email me the link to my email is on the profile page.

Wednesday, November 30, 2011

The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd

64. – 624.) The Bricklayer by Noah Boyd – This thriller came highly recommended by J.D. and Marian at the Sleuth of Baker Street bookstore. I was not disappointed.
            Steve Vail is contentedly working as a bricklayer in Chicago. He had been an FBI agent for a few years specializing in tracking people. He left the Bureau because of his aversion to structure, authority, supervision, reporting, teamwork, official procedures and praise. It is a wonder he lasted any number of years. Vail is the classic lone American law man.
            The book opens with a flourish. Caught in a bank robbery Vail deftly disarms both bank robbers and tosses them through the bank’s windows before disappearing as the customers and staff stream out of the bank.
            At the same time the FBI is confronted by a group of extortionists, the Rubaco Pentad, who have made the FBI the target of their extortion. They are requiring the Bureau pay them! After receiving the first demand for $1,000,000 the Bureau, following standard protocols, attempts a fake drop but is outwitted by a fiendishly clever drop plan at an abandoned naval prison.
            The Pentad ups the ante and the consequences and demands $2,000,000. When the agent designated to make the delivery and the money both go missing the FBI is almost paralyzed.
            Desperate for a solution before the story becomes public and facing another demand the Bureau reaches out to Vail to find the disappeared agent and money. In Los Angeles Vail works with Kate Bannon, Deputy Assistant Director on the search.
            In the investigation Vail encounters situations that are dangerous puzzles. Boyd has created enough clever traps for several books. There is even an excellent contemporary locked room mystery within the plot. Boyd’s skill in devising traps reminds me of Jeffery Deaver.
            Not surprisingly the agency’s bureaucracy is very unhappy with a renegade leading the investigation but their reliance on procedure has them continually led astray by the distractions and misleading clues left by the Pentad. While they flail about Vail is relying on his ability to think more than his brawn. It was a pleasure to see the hero’s mind challenged in a thriller.
I read through the book eager to see the next devious trap unraveled. The cleverness of the Pentad brought to mind some of the early Harry Bosch mysteries of Michael Connelly.
My only lament is a regret I sometimes experience in Deaver books. The twists are unpredictable and well done but there is one too many of them.
Boyd has created the most promising thriller series in years. It is the second thriller I have read this year featuring a Chicago hero. Michael Harvey created a high octane thriller in The Third Rail. Harvey’s book raced along with the hero, Michael Kelly, having no time for reflection. Boyd’s book is a better book as he emphasizes thought amidst the action. (Curiously both Harvey and Boyd have the FBI blundering about ponderously investigating the crimes.) The Bricklayer has great visual images. It will be an excellent movie if Hollywood will trust Boyd’s skill in plotting. (Nov. 28/11)


  1. Bill - Oh, this does sound like an action-packed yet thoughtful book. It's not easy to find an author who's skilled at both. And it's funny you would mention Hollywood at the end of your post. As I was reading it, I thought this might very well be the kind of book that would lend itself well to movie-making.

  2. Margot: Thanks for commenting. It would be a rare experience to see a thoughtful action packed movie from Hollywood.

  3. AHA! A contemporary locked room mystery. So few modern day writerss are up to the challenges of this tricky plot device from dating back to the gool ol' days. I'll have to find a copy of this book and if it lives up to my standards I will recommend it to TomCat and Patirck, fellow bloggers who are big JD Carr fans.

  4. John: Thanks for the comment. I look forward to your thoughts on the locked room mystery within the thriller. I thought it was well done.