Interesting Article. Please note: Paul Lindsay uses the pen name Noah Boyd.
Former Detroit FBI agent's books possess the ring of truth
Susan Whitall / The Detroit News
As a thriller author, Paul Lindsay doesn't have to burn hours of time interviewing FBI agents or homicide detectives to get it right.
As Lindsay puts it, "I've got all my research down." That's because the author of "The Bricklayer" and his latest thriller, "Agent X" (both written under the nom de plume Noah Boyd), is a former FBI agent himself, with 20 years in the bureau's Detroit office under his belt.
Lindsay, who now lives in Rye, N.H., returns to Michigan this week for a number of bookstore appearances, from Metro Detroit and Ann Arbor up to Gaylord (see box).
As an FBI agent, he spent years chasing down criminals like Benjamin Atkins, the Highland Park strangler, who murdered women along the Woodward Corridor in 1991 and 1992. Lindsay retired in 1993, after writing a book highly critical of his bosses.
"The Bricklayer," which came out last year, introduced Steve Vail, a former FBI agent who, coincidentally, spent years in Detroit and left the bureau's employ, disgusted with management. Vail goes back to his father's trade, bricklaying, in his hometown of Chicago, but he's called out of retirement to help the FBI solve a tough case in Los Angeles.
In "Agent X" (William Morrow, $24.99), Vail is once again prevailed upon to come out of retirement to help sometime girlfriend Kate Bannon, an FBI assistant director, clear her name and track down Russian double agents who've managed to infiltrate the FBI.
Lindsay's own father was a bricklayer, and he grew up in Chicago. After college he spent three years as a Marine, in Vietnam, then he became an FBI agent. Much like Steve Vail, Lindsay found himself at odds with his bosses, even more so after he wrote his first book, "Witness to the Truth," in 1992. A lot of his Detroit experiences ended up, lightly fictionalized, in that book.
"It's probably more nonfiction than fiction," Lindsay says, "although it's not very well written. But I wanted to tell the world how screwed up FBI management was. It turned out, nobody cared."
Lindsay's law enforcement background adds a texture of authenticity to his narratives. At one point, Vail tells a colleague about a woman's murder they've tied to the killings of several prostitutes: "As we learned in Detroit, a surviving victim is still the best way to find out who's killing hookers." They track down a woman who survived an attack, and through her trace their way back to the killer.
"Actually I learned that from a number of cases. That's how the Green River murders were solved, Ted Bundy's cases, and that's certainly how we got Benjamin Atkins," Lindsay says. "If someone is killing a lot of them, (prostitutes) are pretty tough, chances are that somebody is going to get away. The problem initially is finding that person."
Lindsay hasn't watched "Detroit 1-8-7," ABC's crime drama centering on Detroit homicide detectives, having worked with the real deal.
"I spent 20 years with Detroit homicide. I was the only (FBI) agent going over there, and it took me a good year to get everybody's trust." He got to the point where he would attend Detroit homicide's Christmas parties at Carl's Chop House, usually the only FBI agent present.
That trust led to Lindsay helping Detroit and Highland Park police during the Highland Park Strangler investigation. Mayor Coleman Young had put out orders that the FBI was not to be brought in, "because (the FBI) were investigating him," Lindsay says. Because he'd worked so closely with Detroit police (and many of the victims were found in Detroit, along the Woodward corridor), his bosses asked if he would help out, despite the fact that he was in trouble for writing his first book.
"I kept Detroit and Highland Park (police) from killing each other," Lindsay says with a laugh. "Detroit (homicide) had the best interviewers in the business. And we would want a confession. When we did catch this guy, (Detroit homicide detective) Ron Sanders was the one who copped him out, had him confess to all 11 rapes and murders."
Both of Lindsay's Steve Vail/FBI thrillers are tightly-paced and cinematic, so it's no surprise that Hollywood has come calling.
First actress Charlize Theron tried to option "The Bricklayer." "We negotiated with Charlize Theron, but she wanted the whole thing rewritten so she would be Steve Vail," Lindsay says. That was a no-go.
Currently actor Gerard Butler's film company is negotiating with Lindsay's agent, a happy coincidence since the author already thought Butler would be the best choice to play Vail. He isn't optimistic about seeing a film true to his book, though. Ultimately, Lindsay is as cynical as his protagonist. "The only thing I want to hear from Hollywood is actually from the bank, that their check cleared," he says.
From The Detroit News: http://detnews.com/article/20110215/ENT05/102150310/Former-Detroit-FBI-agent’s-books-possess-the-ring-of-truth#ixzz1E1Pa4Lxl