I'm a fan of Marcus Sakey's crime fiction debut THE BLADE ITSELF, but I've been a little disappointed by his subsequent output. I think GOOD PEOPLE, his third novel, is a decent effort, but suffers from the lack of a sympathetic main character.
GOOD PEOPLE deals with a yuppie Chicago couple that accidentally discovers $400,000 in cash in the room of their recently deceased tenant. Tom and Anna Reed are heavily in debt due to failed attempts at in vitro fertilization, and decide without much hesitation to keep the money without telling anybody. Predictably, their dishonest behavior comes back to haunt them, as they are forced to confront a series of criminals who are also interested in getting their hands on the cash.
The basic plotline of GOOD PEOPLE (ordinary person tempted by a great sum of discovered money) isn't particularly original, and explores territory that Scott Smith explored to much better effect in his great novel A SIMPLE PLAN. Like Smith, Sakey is trying to tell a dark, moralistic tale about greed, but he lacks Smith's ability to create memorable, compelling characters.
For example, the husband-wife couple in this novel, Tom and Anna Reed are more self-absorbed than likable, and I found many of their decisions more stupid than understandable. For the most part, they have the depth of a character in a Grimm's fairy tale, and little more. The supporting characters are similarly two dimensional, which leads to a rather unengaging read in spots.
I understand that Sakey is trying to tell a dark morality tale in GOOD PEOPLE, but even tragic stories should have flesh-and-blood characters that the reader can relate to. The lack of such characters in this novel ultimately drain this work of a lot of its potential suspense and moralistic force. The result is an okay read, but not much more.