The FBI are used to all sort of cases, they are the objective observer on many cases, famous or not around the United States; however, what would happen if the FBI was the target and had to solve their very own Blackmail case from a criminal organization that is promising and performing murder if payments are not made. It turns out not very well. After murders of an FBI agent, and some very high ranking and public officials who have publicly chastised the FBI, the FBI are not only looking bad to the public, but they are forced to take a different approach. Steve Vail is a former FBI agent who was fired for having "issues" with authority figures but Vail was known for getting the job done no matter what it took. His approach to things is just what the FBI needs, but can Vail be trusted, he is not the biggest fan of the FBI and being within the FBI would be the perfect place to exact his own revenge on them.
As an FBI Agent, Boyd worked on some very famous cases including the Highland Park Strangler and the Green River Killer. This makes me appreciate his work in The Bricklayer, because he could have done something he is more familiar with by creating a serial killer thriller novel as he appears to have experience in this concept. Instead he goes for an mystery action adventure thriller. The book definitely starts out with Bang, with some murders, challenges, ransom notes and a bank robbery. I don't think that a reader could ask for a better opening, I know I was hooked from the beginning.
Vail is a strong character who really does flaunt any type of authority to get the job done. If he can go around management, which he achieves very nicely on multiple occasions, he will. He also is not beyond manipulating management as well in order to get them out of his way so he can pursue the evidence or facts that he wants too. All in all, it seems like he is playing a constant game with the management team, which makes him less than popular with a few people. The interaction and partnership between Vail and Kate was also done well. Kate is the assistant deputy director who is Vail partner in this case, and like everyone else, he does seem to at point manipulate and use Kate, however, you can also tell that he cares for her as well. Kate is a woman who has worked her way through the ranks of the FBI, she is strong woman, but you still get the sense that she feels (and possible others feel as well) that she has something to prove just because she is a woman in the FBI.
I enjoyed the missions/challenges that Vail and sometimes Kate were forced to go through (it came to me while I was reading the book that the mission idea was similar to those in the Saw movies, but not gory, and if you fail someone else will die, but you could also die in the process). All of these challenges were really suspenseful and I could not wait to see what idea that Boyd had cooked up. The challenges were complex and you did not know what was going to happen next and whether the Agent assigned or Vail would be able to solve the "puzzle" related to the challenge. Each mission really came down to survival.
I really liked that the motivation for everything in this book was the very basic human "sins" (if you will) greed and revenge. Its amazing what an individual will do for money and revenge, killing someone is really not a problem for them (unfortunately this is not restrained to the fictional world). Although this may be a some what basic premise for the book, it works really well in the storyline that Boyd has created. Greed seems to be something that all humans feel now and again, which adds a realistic aspect to the book. I mean when there is millions of dollars at stake the primal human side can come out of people.
I found it interesting, and I'm unsure if this was Boyd's intent, but he made the FBI look very bureaucratic, (which I'm sure it is) but he showed the side of the FBI where following all the procedures and taking the time to fill out paperwork is not the way to solve cases. Almost like he was pointing out to the FBI itself today, as this is what is wrong with the system. It seemed to me that he was very for the lone ranger approach, which makes me wonder what kind of agent he was in real life and how he helped solve the famous cases he was involved in. As I said I am not sure if this was his intent, but once you read the book you will understand what I mean.
I think this book could be considered mystery thriller, with a side of action adventure. I think that individuals who do not normally read action adventure novels that this would be a good place to start, as it does not have those impossible scenario, where you don't know how the individuals got out like many books within the action adventure genre are famous for. This one uses the main character's brain power in order to figure out how to get out of each situation. That said, I believe there is enough action to satisfy an individual who has been reading these books for year.
I really enjoyed this book, it starts off with a bang and keeps going to the very end. The characters are well built and the story line was full of twists and turns and you are never really sure you have everything figured out till the end. You actually keep waiting for the Vail to make a mistake (and he does make a few), talk about suspense.