Title: The Amateurs
Author: Marcus Sakey
Length: 378 pages
Plot Basics: Four friends -- Alex, Mitch, Jenn and Ian -- all feel like their lives are stuck in a rut, save for their Thursday nights when they meet for drinks at the bar where Alex works and dream and play games like Ready Go (For example: What would you do if you won the lottery? Ready? Go.) When Alex is asked by his criminally-connected boss to serve as muscle during some kind of shady deal, the four hatch a plan that will shake up their lives. Rather than see the money turned over for a drug deal, they will rob the boss and use the money to move beyond their current circumstances. Of course, the foursome knows nothing about how to be criminals and the people on the other end of the robbery are quite good at it, forcing them out of their humdrum lives in ways they would never have imagined.
Banter Points: There are few other authors that Word Nerd reads who have the same keen sense of pacing as Marcus Sakey does. It's more than just a plot that keeps the reader turning pages to find out what happens next, but when to kick the story up a notch, when to give the reader the briefest respite from the intensity of the story, when to shock them. And that's all while writing darn believable people with stories of their own that make them feel like people you know. Sakey delivers another all-around winner with The Amateurs.
Bummer Points: This isn't necessarily a bummer, but Word Nerd really wants to see Sakey try something really different. All of his books so far have been great, hard to put down stories. But at their core, they all feature regular people going up against savvy criminals. Sakey's clearly found a niche that works and that he does well, but Word Nerd wonders what would happen if the formula was shaken a bit.
Word Nerd Recommendation: Great crime fiction. Sakey's other books have all ended up in Word Nerd's Top 10 books for the year list and it's a strong, strong possibility that this one will be there as well.