Book Review: Marcus Sakey’s THE AMATEURS

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.”

“Huh?”

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.

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10 Comments

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    February 9, 2010 at 7:15 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Eric Edwards
      February 9, 2010 at 11:07 am

      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.

  • Reply
    Jen Forbus
    February 9, 2010 at 11:11 am

    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.

    • Reply
      Eric Edwards
      February 9, 2010 at 11:16 am

      Wow, you seem to have done some research, Jen! You’ll usually catch me slinking along the aisles of bookstores. LOL!

  • Reply
    MelodyGirl
    February 9, 2010 at 12:37 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    READER#9
    February 9, 2010 at 12:45 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    ARB
    February 9, 2010 at 1:10 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    DonnaTX
    February 9, 2010 at 7:48 pm

    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.

  • Reply
    Shell Sherree
    February 9, 2010 at 10:18 pm

    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!!

  • Reply
    Lenore
    February 11, 2010 at 12:02 pm

    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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