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The Amateurs - Review

I recently decided that, among other things, once a writer has released their fourth book you can no longer call them a 'new' author. The AMATEURS is book 4 by the very talented Marcus Sakey. It was only in January of 2007 that Mr. Sakey could be called a new author. Four books in just under 32 months is prodigious output, not James Paterson numbers but not too shabby.

In my Summer 2009 Preview I wrote that I thought Mr. Sakey needed to take the next step in his writing. While I will be very happy to read his exceptional fiction for the next 20 to 25 years, I feel Mr. Sakey needs to write the book that changes our perception of what he is capable of as a writer. In short he needs to write his MYSTIC RIVER. I feel pretty confident in saying that I am not the only one who believes that he has got it in him.

So does THE AMATEURS do it? Well I'm going to have to push. I don't feel it is the definitive step forward that Mr. Sakey needs, but it definitely continues his run of really well written novels.

The story here is of four friends who have reached their early thirties. It is a time for discovering that their world is not as bright and shiny as it was in their twenties. All four characters in THE AMATEURS are staring down the barrel of 'what am I going to do?' or 'what have I become?' Mr. Sakey in all 4 of his books has proven himself very adept at capturing the zeitgeist of adult angst. In fact, he does it so well that as a reader you don't really question the group decision to heist the Mobster boss of one of the four. The heist goes pear shaped right off the bat, and what follows is the disintegration of four friends who find the best and worst of their own character.

I had a lot of fun reading THE AMATEURS. I gulped the whole thing down in one five hour session. Mr. Sakey's prose is as flashy as it is effective. All four characters get their moment in the sun while also getting their moments to wallow in stupidity and selfishness. One of Mr. Sakey's best assets is writing sympathetic yet moral challenged characters. THE AMATEURS is perhaps the most risky of all his books in that the cost to our protagonists goes farther than any other of his work to date. Along with THE SILENT HOUR and FIFTY GRAND this is one of the year's best.

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