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The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey
Review by Mel Jacob
St. Martin's Minotaur Hardcover  ISBN/ITEM#: 0312360312
Date: 09 January, 2007 List Price $22.95 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /

Marcus Sakey's debut novel features Danny Carter, reformed thief and now project construction manager, who finds his comfortable life torn apart by a monster from his past. Years ago, Danny ran from a pawnshop robbery scene when his partner Evan McGann shot the owner. Evan got twelve years; Danny left the life of crime. Now Evan's seeks a big score and wants his old pal Danny to set up the kidnapping of his boss's son Tommy.

Set in Chicago, the gritty novel portrays Danny's struggles to escape his past and build a future with Karen, the woman he loves. His attempt to enlist the support of the cop he knew as a boy fails. The cop wants Danny in jail where he thinks he belongs.

Danny can't share his problem with Karen. If she catches a hint of him resuming his old ways, she will leave. He shares Evan's threats with his friend Patrick, a small-time auto thief, and a sort of foster brother. Patrick suspects Evan means business and Danny has grown too soft to deal with him. Once Patrick tracks Evan down, disaster strikes.

At first, Danny refuses to help Evan and tries to avoid him, but threats against Karen and his fear for the safety of the boy compel him to change his mind. A planner, Danny fails to realize how much Evan has changed and how vicious he has grown in prison. Evan sabotages all Danny's efforts to ensure Tommy's safety and prevent violence. Danny soon learns the easy way out only drags him deeper into Evan's web.

Initially, Danny urges a ransom he believes his boss can raise, but Evan doubles it. The boss risks losing everything in his attempt to raise the money. He puts his company, Danny's job, and those of all his crew in jeopardy.

Confronting Evan has no effect. To Danny's dismay, Evan hides Tommy and kidnaps Karen, raising the stakes for Danny. No longer knowing the location of the boy, he appeals to his boss, Tommy's father, and confesses his part in the scheme. Furious, the man wants nothing more than to beat him to mush.

The novel rolls to an exciting climax with a showdown between the old partners and the suspicious cop. It takes all Danny's cunning and knowledge to reach that point knowing he has made himself a likely sacrifice.

Evan provides a villain easy to hate. Danny and Karen offer sympathetic characters the reader can root for and hope they will somehow survive the disasters they face. The multiple points of view provide insights into even the supporting characters. Since Sakey signed a two book contract, watch for his next book.

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