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Good People Hardcover – August 14, 2008

4.2 out of 5 stars 72 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

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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From Booklist

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

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Product Details

  • Hardcover: 336 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult; First Edition edition (August 14, 2008)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0525950842
  • ISBN-13: 978-0525950844
  • Product Dimensions: 6.3 x 1.2 x 9.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 15.2 ounces
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (72 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #1,535,381 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Thriller Lover VINE VOICE on August 28, 2008
Format: Hardcover
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.
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Format: Hardcover
The basic premise of Good People centers on the question 'How far would you go to keep hidden the fact that you found $370,000?' When Tom and Anna Reed find $370,000 they develop a simple plan regarding their find. Their plan is to keep the money hidden and wait to see if anyone comes to claim it. If not, they plan to keep the money and use it in ways that will change their lives. What the Reeds don't realize is that their simple plan has led them to cross some very dangerous men who won't stop until they get revenge no matter where they find it. Let me be very clear about the fact that Sakey's third book, Good People, is a very fast-paced, exciting, entertaining read. What the premise of the book is not, however, is original. That is, it is very similar to the book written several years ago by Scott Smith called A Simple Plan. As I said, Good People is a book that is suspenseful and worth reading, especially by those who have never read (or seen the movie) A Simple Plan. In comparison, however, I think readers (and/or viewers) of A Simple Plan will find, as I did, that Good People pales somewhat in comparison.
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Format: Hardcover
Since Marcus Sakey is a local thriller author (Chicago, IL), I decided to read Good People. Available at my public library, I was excited to listen to the audio version of this fast-paced thriller. Though my iPod mixed up some of the tracks in this book, I listened to the majority of the story in chronological order.

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.
Read more ›
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I'm a big fan of Marcus Sakey ever since I read "Brilliance" and "The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes", his best works. I've since been working my way backwards through his novels. For comparison, this book is a little better than "Accelerant" (since it has a strong central concept) but is still weaker than "Brilliance" or "Two Deaths".

As with all of his work, Sakey has a real talent for tight pacing, quick and relatable character descriptions, and realistic, counter-intuitive fiction. Here, however, probably due to Sakey still coming into his own, these elements tend to be somewhat unrefined. For example, there were more than a few scenes in which some description seemed to be lacking, and I didn't quite understand right away what was happening. This seemed to be due less to bad writing / editing and more to do with Sakey just getting caught up in the action of the scene. Further, other than for the two protagonists, most characters are not QUITE as fleshed out as Sakey tends to make his characters in newer novels. This makes the motivations of one of the bad guys entirely undefined, while it makes the others barely more than two-dimensional in some ways.

Still, this is an excellent book. Unlike "Accelerant", this book is framed around an almost modern-day Aesop fable: what would happen if two real people with real monetary debts came upon a large bag full of cash? That makes this book more than just a crime thriller, as is the case with "Accelerant", and more on par with the nail-biting anxiety of "The Amateurs". It's a relatively quick read, with excellent pacing, twists and turns, and life-threatening situations. The book also offers up some valuable life-lessons, something else I rather enjoy from Sakey's writings.
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