My friend Addy gave two thumbs up (and she would have given more, I think) to Marcus Sakey‘s novels. The Amateurs is the fourth, following The Blade Itself, At the City’s Edge and Good People. I’m reading them at her suggestion. Out of order, but that’s okay.
The Amateurs moves quickly, has well-conceived and well-presented characters, and features a plot that keeps you hanging by a thread, hoping that this group of four flawed, but bright and likable friends can pull themselves out of a spiraling nosedive into tragedy.
That Sakey keeps that hope alive, right up to the last pages, is testament to the reader’s willing suspension of disbelief. One thing that makes it work is the convention in fiction that protagonists triumph in the end. They may be beaten, tortured, shot – yes. People close to the main characters may die – it increases the angst. So I kept hoping (and to some degree, expecting) that Jenn, Mitch, Alex and Ian would have a brainstorm, and that the amateurs would outsmart the pros.
Where the amateurs do out maneuver the pros is in heart. And that’s what makes you think, when you finish The Amateurs, “dang, that was a good one.”