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.)
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Sakey, whose debut novel, The Blade Itself (2007), garnered a truckload of praise, returns with a chilling story that combines an ordinary couple’s desperation with a band of Chicago criminals’ unslaked thirst for revenge. It’s masterful in showing how the daily drip, drip of dreams deferred can lead people into peril. Sakey’s opening chapters juxtapose an unbearably tense murder-and-betrayal scene in a club against a domestic drama centered on a couple’s inability to conceive a child. Readers may feel a bit of whiplash with the contrast, but Sakey’s portrayal of the couple’s despair (to the tune of $15,000 per failed in vitro treatment) is essential to understanding their plight in the rest of the novel. The plot hinges, however, on one very creaky, contrived element. The couple owns a two-flat and rents the bottom unit to a taciturn, somewhat creepy tenant. The deus ex machina element comes in when the husband smells smoke, the couple investigates downstairs, and finds that where there’s smoke—there’s a pile of money just lying on the floor with the tenant conveniently dead. The couple is now $400,000 to the good, and the Chicago Police no wiser, but, of course, their troubles are just beginning. The dead tenant betrayed some very bad, well-connected criminals, who will stop at nothing to retrieve their money and exact revenge. Excellent chase and psychological drama, after the initial plot bump. --Connie Fletcher