three-stars
Bookmarks Issue: 
28-May-June-2007
By: 
Marcus Sakey
user_rating: 
0

A-The Blade ItselfEvan McGann took the fall for a crime he committed with childhood friend Danny Carter. After seven years in prison, Evan returns to the South Side of Chicago for one more heist. Evan, thinking Danny owes him, asks him for help—but Danny has traded a life of petty crime for a more respectable construction job and a swanky condo near Wrigley Field. As Evan concocts a kidnapping scheme, Danny must decide how far he’s willing to go to stop his former friend from destroying the life that he’s built.
St. Martin’s Minotaur. 307 pages. $22.95. ISBN: 0312360312

San Jose Mercury News 4 of 5 Stars
"Fans of crime fiction can celebrate … with the debut of an astoundingly good writer, Marcus Sakey, whose first novel, The Blade Itself, is the terrifically engaging, poetically structured tale of a man both tortured and tempted by his criminal past. … There’s no easy way out for Carter, but Sakey manages a satisfying ending." John Orr

St. Louis Dispatch 3.5 of 5 Stars
"As a bonus, Sakey paints in lots of local color: White Sox color, South Side color, blue-collar Irish color. … Give Sakey a try. If enough readers buy his book, he’ll write another, and he shows a good deal of promise." Harry Levins

Chicago Sun-Times 3 of 5 Stars
"Though the characters are keenly crafted and the climax is cinematic (the book is already getting the Hollywood once-over), readers shouldn’t go expecting a sequel." Avis Weathersbee

New York Times 3 of 5 Stars
"The Blade Itself is tight and propulsive in [the] early stages … [Sakey] can construct a story that delivers a kick and leaves no loose ends. But his voice is a clever amalgam. It is rarely his own." Janet Maslin

Oregonian 3 of 5 Stars
"Sakey and Danny want to set the world right—a satisfying aim for many readers, but a little too noble and warmhearted for those who like their heroes hardboiled and world-weary, and their fiction dark." Douglas Levin

USA Today 3 of 5 Stars
"The Blade Itself is fast-moving; the writing is spare and lively. Debut author Marcus Sakey could have written an even better novel if he had used the blade itself to cut out some of the novel’s way-too-sentimental scenes and its … ending." Carol Memmott

Washington Post 3 of 5 Stars
"Sakey does the big things right but sometimes stumbles on small things. … Still, he writes well, and The Blade Itself is an impressive start to his career." Patrick Anderson

Critical Summary

Tapping into the "it" genre of the moment isn’t easy. Not every author can deliver a Mystic River or L.A. Confidential, but add first-time novelist Marcus Sakey to the current crop of suspense and thriller writers who deliver well on the genre’s premise. While his characters may feel overly familiar, he deftly uses the streets of Chicago, and his familiarity with the city (his home) is compelling. From page one, Sakey is in control. While his plot may seem a bit overwrought in some places and a bit too convenient in others, and while a few critics thought the ending too sentimental, Irish genre writer Ken Bruen says of Sakey, "Boston has Lehane. D.C. has Pelecanos. And now Chicago has its very own dark poet."