Tag Archives: Hidden City

Spend Sunday with Sakey’s Brilliance

marcusMarcus Sakey seems to have it all going on lately!  He’s built a reputation for solid crime fiction, is the host of Hidden City on the Travel Channel, is a frequent panelist and faculty member at fan and writing conferences, and (I can attest) is super-engaging on Facebook.  And he’s really knocked it out of the park with his latest novel, a genre-bending mash-up of thriller and sci-fi, Brilliance.

Protagonist Nick Cooper is one of the 1%.  Not the 1% of wealthiest Americans, but the 1% of Americans born since 1980 with a special ability – Nick is “brilliant” at instantaneously evaluating what people will do, and getting there before them.  This physical gift makes him especially skilled in physical combat.  Others of the 1% have other gifts.  With the exception of their particular gift, the “brilliants” are normal.

brillianceNot surprisingly, the 99% fear and want to control the 1%.  Surprisingly, Nick’s an agent with the Department of Analysis and Response – the federal agency charged with identifying, finding, and neutralizing those gifted who resist control:  terrorists.  Nick’s so committed that he goes undercover to hunt the uber-terrorist John Smith, leaving behind his wife, his kids, his partner and his colleagues in a desperate bid to simultaneously save the country AND keep his tier-one talented daughter in the family.  (Gifted children are taken away and sent to  a special training academy.)   The stakes are high.

And, of course, complications ensue.  Nick may be gifted, but he’s not all-knowing, and it takes a while for him to recognize  that the DAR is not what it purports to be.   He’s undercover, on the run, with a new love interest.  Terrible things happen and he’s responsible for many of them.   The final scenes are fraught with tension, as Nick must draw upon the strength of his friendship with his former partner to win the day.  Does he win it?  Yes, for now.  But Brilliance is clearly the first book in a planned series.

I’m thinking a movie series as well… the concept is awesome, the first book is packed with great characters and compelling action, and there’s plenty of room for continued conflict.  It’s like Jason Bourne with psychic powers.  Sure enough, Screenrant says Tobey Maguire’s producing and they’re talking James Franco for Nick Cooper.  (I’m not seeing that casting.  Jake Gyllenhal?  Jim Sturgess?)

My recommendation:  get the book and spend Sunday in Sakey’s world.  Want more insight into the book?  Here’s a link to an NPR email interview with the author.

Lit Fest Yet Again: the Dynamic Duo of Sakey and Chercover

Printers Row Lit Fest 2011 closed for me with Sean Chercover and Marcus Sakey in conversation… a fun event without a doubt.  And I’d like to include a photo from the program… but no!  For some unknown reason, every panel I went to began with an introduction that basically said “Don’t even THINK about taking pictures.”

So I don’t have a picture that shows Marcus and Sean sitting side by side, both with curly dark hair, both wearing dark jeans and a black, button-up-the-front shirt.  It was like the DoubleMint twins, only not so peppy.

Instead we’ll have to make do with photos “stolen” off the world wide web.  Sean’s hair is now as curly as Marcus’ – perhaps he has let his naturally curly hair grow out.



The guys have been buddies for five years now, since 2006, when they were introduced by Jon Jordan of CrimeSpree.  They went on a book tour together in 2007, and told their program attendees about the worst book-signing ever.  In Kokomo.  Where not too many people showed up, they had four hours to kill, and they were under the full-bore gaze and alarming stories of a serial killer aficionado.  (That John Wayne Gacy!  Now he was a murderer!  And what do you guys think of Richard Speck!  Awful, huh?)

I’ve recently reviewed by works by Sean and Marcus on this blog.  Sean is the author of books about Chicago PI Ray Dudgeon and has a new work coming out – but not a Dudgeon book – soon.  (Can’t be soon enough for me.)  It features a preacher, the charismatic type, who starts out a charlatan.  But what does he end up?

And Lit Fest was actually the occasion of Marcus’ new book, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. Yes, I bought it at Lit Fest.  In hardcover.  At full price.  (But I got a ticket for a free beer at the launch party, thus adding to the value.)  I am not done yet, but I will say that there is a point in the book where I actually gasped out loud in shock.  Then I closed the book and marveled at how he managed to completely fool me.  But fairly.  Good work so far, Marcus.

The Sakey star seems to be rising, with two books optioned by big-name movie stars (Ben Affleck, Tobey Maguire) , although self-deprecating Marcus said that was because someone in their respective entourages read it and liked it.  He’s also doing a TV show on the Travel Channel.  Several fun stories about that… Evidently as cooperative as people are with fiction writers (and they are), they are gaga over TV.  Hidden City looks at cities through the lens of famous crimes, and the cops couldn’t be more cooperative.  (Would Mr. Sakey like to go up in the helicopter?  Yes, Mr. Sakey would.)

So that’s it for this year’s Lit Fest.  It was fun and inspirational.  See you all next year.