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Home » Books & writing

Book Review: Marcus Sakey’s THE AMATEURS

Submitted by on February 9, 2010 – 12:48 am 10 Comments

by Eric Edwards

Wanna know how I can tell I’ve read a good book? When I’ve done it in one sitting. Marcus Sakey’s The Amateurs made my bum sore from sitting on the couch all day.

Alex, Mitch, Jenn and Ian are four people in their 30s who have come together mainly because their real friends have all married and had children, or become too wildly successful to deal with people who are neither married nor even mildly successful. These rejects share the common bonds of nowhere careers and the lack of interest or funds to change their lives. They aren’t losers, just stuck in life and can’t seem to go forward. So they drink, and form the Thursday Night Drinking Club. It’s during one of these weekly social engagements that they hatch a plan they believe will increase their fortunes and better their lives.

“Except for one thing.”

“What’s that?”

“We’re not criminals.”

The big man’s smile widened a notch. “Exactly.”


Ian said, “That’s just it. We’re not criminals. We’re normal people. No one, not the cops, not Johnny, no one would look at us. It’s like if four people robbed the liquor store down the street. Would you start by checking to see if a trader, a travel agent, a doorman and a bartender were involved?”

So sets the stage for a disastrous caper that brings them closer together while ripping their lives apart.

Sakey’s style could probably be a bit leaner, but where it isn’t succinct, it’s realistic. He taps into an everyman way of speaking when letting us in on a character’s inner thoughts. For everyone who has ever played by the rules, gotten nowhere and finally thinks, What if I don’t follow the rules? Sakey has written a cautionary tale of what could happen when you cross that line.



  • Jen Forbus says:

    I just love Sakey’s work. A big part of the reason is what you mentioned, “he taps into an everyman way of speaking…”

    I was supposed to have won this book in BBAW so I didn’t buy it, but it never came. Have to get my copy now.

    • Eric Edwards says:

      Sorry to hear about you never getting your book, Jen. I enjoyed The Amateurs so much, I’m going to read his three other novels. According to the dust jacket, they are all in development as films.

  • Jen Forbus says:

    I can attest to GOOD PEOPLE being absolutely wonderful. THE BLADE ITSELF is up soon in my audio book rotation. TBI is being made (as a film) right now, I believe.

  • MelodyGirl says:

    I feel like flouting the rules everyday. Guess I’ll have to pick up this book to set me straight again :-). Thanks for the review.

  • READER#9 says:

    I like the excerpt a lot. It does indeed sound like something I overheard at a bar recently. Reading that made the hair on the back of my head stand up a bit. Very colloquial sounding.

  • ARB says:

    I went after the rights to The Blade Itself and didn’t get there in time. It’s not official, but supposedly Chris Pine will play the lead. Not so impressed with that, but not my problem.

    Didn’t know Amateurs was already optioned as well. It was on my desk to read.

    Marcus is definitely someone to watch.

  • DonnaTX says:

    I read Sakey’s “At the City’s Edge” last year and was impressed. His writing is compelling…would find myself with mouth agape thinking ‘damn!’ He reminds me of Michael Ledwidge who wrote “The Narrowback” some years ago + it was terrific. Yet Sakey’s writing has more of an edge. Leaves you uncomfortable because his characters could be any of us. We hear/read everyday of people driven to such measures + fail. Makes one wonder if you’d take such chances. I am definitely going to read his other books.

  • Eric, I can’t seem to sit still long enough to get the numb bum syndrome, no matter how gripping the book is. 🙂 Thanks so much for this wonderful review ~ it does sound like something you’d see on film. And another one to add to the list!!

  • Lenore says:

    That excerpt is kinda chilling. Who WOULD suspect normal people like that of committing a crime? Sounds like this novel is very timely. Everybody’s desperate right now. Off to library to see if they have a copy…

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