- Hardcover: 384 pages
- Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (August 6, 2009)
- Language: English
- ISBN-10: 0525951261
- ISBN-13: 978-0525951261
- Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.3 x 9.3 inches
- Shipping Weight: 1.3 pounds
- Average Customer Review: 64 customer reviews
- Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #246,217 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
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The Amateurs Hardcover – August 6, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
In Sakey's so-so thriller, four friends—travel agent Jenn Lacie, trader Ian Trevarian, hotel doorman Mitch McDonnell and bartender Alex Kern—meet every Thursday night at the Chicago restaurant where Alex bartends and commiserate over their unsatisfying lives. When Alex's boss, Johnny Love Loverin, asks him to act as muscle for a shady back-office deal, the group decides, almost on a whim, to steal Johnny's money. The heist goes smoothly until an altercation in the alley behind the bar leads to murder, and the four friends find themselves with $250,000 and a dead body. Making matters worse, Mitch and Jenn discover that the deal they interrupted wasn't about drugs or guns but something far more deadly. Sakey (Good People) does what he can with the weak premise, but his characters will elicit little sympathy from readers who won't care why the foursome carried out their poorly planned and executed scheme. (Aug.)
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About the Author
Marcus Sakey is the acclaimed author of Good People, The Blade Itself, and At the City's Edge, all three of which are in development as feature films.
Top customer reviews
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"The Amateurs" is ostensibly centered around a very simple premise: what would happen if four average people got together and decided to committ a crime (in this case, stealing money from a drug deal)? In that, this book didn't seem very remarkable, and it was largely because of Sakey's other work that I even took an interest in this concept. But once you start into this novel, it quickly becomes apparent that the story involves more than just a simple philosophical question, and is in fact more of a character study than a mystery or crime novel.
The four people in question are good friends, but each are well into their 30s with different personalities, different jobs, different dreams, and different personal conflicts ... but, other than through a "Thursday Night Drinking Club", these four people are united by their dissatisfaction with life and feelings that they've wasted their existence so far. It quickly becomes apparent that THIS is one of the main driving factors for why four average people with no criminal histories decide to committ an incredibly risky crime, and THIS is the reason this story eventually comes to standout.
This book is not simply a crime novel, or a concept novel, or about-friends novel; this is an engaging look into what could cause four simple people to behave so erratically. The narrative does an excellent job giving almost equal time to each of the four friends' perspectives and showing their own personal conflicts, so that, despite their different personalities, you come to sympathize with each of them. However, because there are four friends, three of whom are men, Sakey occassionally gets too relaxed with the pronouns and setup, and you might find yourself momentarily confused by who the narrative is currently focusing on, which then throws off the pace and quality a bit. This happens on more than one occasion, especially at the beginning (during character introduction) and end (during a nail-biting climax in which the characters are seperated, thus the scene keeps changing), but this ultimately is not so bad as to warrant a four star review.
The bad guys in this story are at once familiar sounding, but also unique and intriquing; one of these villians is particularly interesting. However, the story does not spend much time on any of the three main villians, which, to me, was a bit disappointing; I always like to see perspectives from the antagonists. Despite this, Sakey's decision to largely focus on just the four friends makes sense, especially upon reaching the end of the novel. This story is not about glorifying criminals, it's not about slick professional bad guys versus dopey wanna-be thieves, this story is about the four friends that bite off more than they can chew.
For those concerned, despite the subject matter, this story is not particularly violent, and despite the odds that the four friends face, there aren't any scenes of torture. The story still has plenty of tension for a lot of reasons, and once the half-way point is passed, the story starts getting twisty, throwing some surprises and new mysteries in here and there. This all leads up to a nail-biting climax that some might expect, but is nonetheless bittersweet and wholly appropriate. And the final few pages of the novel have perhaps one of the best thematic sum-ups I've read. It'll make you stop and think.
I read a sample of The Good People just to see if I had missed something. NOT. The author has a formula and is sticking to it. In fact, I swear the same dialogue and descriptions were identical in the two novels. I had to check to make sure I had clicked on the correct title on my Kindle as I thought, "wait a second, didn't I just read this passage about planning the robbery and how to act tough as if you do this all of the time and crack them with the pistol if they smart off to you? No, different title, same boring story.
Back to Sleeping Beauty and her gang...they had to be the dumbest people on earth. The whole plot was totally unbelievable, and I found myself liking the "bad guys" more than Jenn, Mitch, Alex, and Ian. I even wanted Alex to not be able to see his daughter as he put her in so much danger. If fact, the premise of their deep friendship was not even plausible except that who else would want to spend time with 4 30 somethings who had absolutely no other friends and lives that were dead-ends (pun intended). I hate to think what the survivor(s) will do with the remainder of his/her life without the extra brain cells that the others donated to this group of nitwits.
I highly recommend this and his other novels.