“[Evan] loomed near the back wall, feet apart like a boxer. His gaze smashed through the cigarette smoke and gruff laughter to hit Danny with physical force…”
After some punk stuff as a young kid, Danny Carter had built a new life for himself. He’s got a good job, a long-term girlfriend, and a clean conscience. Until his old partner Evan McGann gets an early release from prison and comes calling. Marcus Sakey’s debut novel The Blade Itself is one of the best books I’ve read in a while.
The story is taut and Sakey does a good job adding layer upon layer without making the main drive opaque. His characters are multi-layered and his language is vivid. I could almost see the side of Chicago Sakey describes. I had a minor quibble with some of his dialog early on. One of the blurbs in the paperback edition compares it to something by Elmore Leonard. In a Leonard book, a character would drop a word or two in a sentence, but you would still get the gist of what he was saying (example. “I need a guy knows how to work” instead of “I need a guy who knows how to work.”). I noticed this a lot in the early going, but it seemed to either work its way out or at least become less jarring as the story progressed.
With Dave White and Marcus Sakey, two of the three Killer Year authors I’ve read have hooked me for every book they write for the rest of the careers.