Good People Mass Market Paperback – Aug 4 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. What would you do if, like Chicagoans Tom and Anna Reed, you stumbled on $400,000 that seemed heaven sent? After reading Sakey's masterful third crime thriller, you'd probably leave it untouched. In increasing debt from failed attempts to produce a child, Tom and Anna can't resist taking the money they discover hidden in their deceased tenant's apartment. After the initial euphoria, the Reeds find themselves dealing with a deadly drug dealer who wants something they don't have, a vengeful robber looking for the money they do have and a suspicious cop who knows they're holding out on him. Sakey, who excels at taking ordinary good people and forcing them to meet terrible challenges, ratchets up the stakes, creating ever more diabolical traps and ever more desperate escapes until the final shattering conclusion. Having topped his previous two novels (At the City's Edge and The Blade Itself), Sakey may have trouble equaling this stellar performance. (Aug.)
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved. --This text refers to the Hardcover edition.
Acclaim for Marcus Sakey and his novels...
“AN ASTOUNDINGLY GOOD WRITER.” —San Jose Mercury News
“A brainy, twisty, sometimes twisted mystery.”--Gillian Flynn, author of Gone Girl
“MARCUS SAKEY IS EXACTLY THE ELECTRIC JOLT AMERICAN CRIME FICTION NEEDS.”—Dennis Lehane, author of Mystic River and Live by Night
“SAKEY IS A PRODIGIOUS TALENT.”—Laura Lippman, author of And When She Was Good
AN AUTHENTIC, ORIGINAL NEW VOICE.”—George Pelecanos, author of What it Was and Shame the Devil
"Like vintage Elmore Leonard crossed with classic Dennis Lehane.”—Lee Child, author of the Jack Reacher novels
"A brilliant writer. He gets inside the heads of people and shows how one word or turn can lead away from the safe and narrow and into a full blown nightmare."—The Huffington Post
"This giant among crime novelists always holds one spare bullet in his arsenal." —Chicago Sun-Times
"The new master of the thriller." —Providence Journal
“One of the hottest young crime writers in the country.”—The Oregonian
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Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
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.
The premise of the book is interesting: What happens to everyday Good People when they fall into sticky situations?
Here's the official synopsis:
"A family, and the security to enjoy it: that's all Tom and Anna Reed ever wanted. But years of infertility treatments, including four failed attempts at in-vitro fertilization, have left them with neither. The emotional and financial costs are straining their marriage and endangering their dreams. So when their downstairs tenant, a recluse whose promptly delivered cashier's checks were barely keeping them afloat, dies in his sleep, the $400,000 they find stashed in his kitchen seems like fate. More than fate: a chance for everything they've dreamed of for so long. A fairy-tale ending.
But Tom and Anna soon realize that fairy tales never come cheap. Because their tenant wasn't a hermit who squirreled away his pennies. He was a criminal who double-crossed some of the most dangerous men in Chicago. Men who won't stop until they get revenge, no matter where they find it."
Interesting, right? What would I do if I found $400,000 in my imaginary tenant's kitchen? Those were the thoughts constantly running through my head.
What would YOU do in that situation?
Many contemporary thrillers seem to lack depth. Not Good People. Sakey wove his theme through the narrative in a not-so-subtle manner, but it worked. After each chapter, I imagined myself as one of the characters in yet another conundrum from my bad choices. Now what would I do?
Point of view in the novel is another noticeable technique. As writers, we are cautioned against head-hopping between the characters in a given scene. Sakey knows that "rule," but he broke it marvelously. Sometimes, I was jolted out of the story to switch perspectives from Tom to Anna. I still could follow the story.
Thrillers should have that page-turning quality to them. That's one of the telling characteristics. Sakey delivered. I could hardly stop listening to this book long enough to catch up on my favorite pod casts. I was obsessed with the story till the last page.
Give it a read (or a listen). Let me know what you
Jack Witkowski, his brother Bobby, and their buddies Will and Marshall are the bad guys, petty and not-so-petty criminals who pull off an unexpectedly big score. Their lives intersect with that of the Reeds when the latter accidentally but fatefully stumble upon the nearly $400,000 cache of stolen money. The Reeds think to themselves: "It's not your money. It would be wrong." Then "Whose money is it? Why not mine? Why is it wrong?"
Uncertain what to do, but desperate and out of their depth, they think "If they went to the police, they risked everything. If they didn't, they risked their lives."
The detective who first investigates the crime, Chris Halden, sees solving it as a huge feather in his cap and boost to his career. "And all he had to do to get there was bring in a drug dealer . . . , four hundred grand in stolen cash, and two civilians dumb enough to try to keep it."
My stomach muscles clenched as the run-up proceeds to the inevitable confrontation. The pages are filled with nerve-tingling suspense, as should be expected from the man whose book last year, "The Blade Itself," was equally taut and well-written. It must be something in the waters of Lake Michigan and its environs, but we have read some wonderful novels by Chicago authors of late, e.g., Sean Chercover, Libby Fischer Hellmann, and Michael Harvey, and to that list must be added this extraordinary writer, Marcus Sakey.
I found myself torn between being unable to stop reading, mingled with anxiety at what would happen on the next page. Ultimately, it was no contest: I could not put this book down. Highly recommended.