Summary and book reviews of The Blade Itself by Marcus Sakey

The Blade Itself

A Novel

by Marcus Sakey

The Blade Itself
  • Critics' Opinion:

    Readers' Opinion:

     Not Yet Rated
  • First Published:
    Jan 2007, 320 pages
    Paperback:
    Nov 2007, 352 pages

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Book Summary

Danny Carter started his life as a petty criminal, living from score to score with his friend Evan. Years later, Danny has built a new world for himself: a legitimate career, a girlfriend, and a clean conscience. He’s normal, successful. Happy. Until he spots his old partner staring him down in a smoky barroom mirror. Prison-hardened Evan, having served his time without dropping Danny’s name, believes he’s owed major payback -- and he’s willing to do anything to get it.

How far would you go to protect everything you love?

On the South Side of Chicago, you’re only as strong as your reputation. Danny Carter and his best friend, Evan, earned theirs knocking over pawnshops and liquor stores, living from score to score, never thinking of tomorrow.

Then a job went desperately wrong, and in the roar of a gun blast, everything changed.

Years later, Danny doesn’t think about his past. He’s built a new world for himself: a legitimate career, a long-term girlfriend, and a clean conscience. He’s just like anyone else. Normal. Successful. Happy.

Until he spots his old partner staring him down in a smoky barroom mirror. The prison-hardened Evan is barely recognizable. Having served his time without dropping Danny’s name, his old friend believes he’s owed major payback---and he’s willing to do anything to get it. With all he loves on the line and nowhere to turn, Danny realizes his new life hinges on a terrible choice: How far will he go to protect his future from his past?

A debut novel that’s drawn comparison to Dennis Lehane, Laura Lippman, and Quentin Tarantino, The Blade Itself is the story of a good man held hostage by circumstance; a riveting exploration of class, identity, and the demons that shape us, where every effort to do the right thing leads to terrifying consequences and one inevitable conclusion:

The more you have, the more you have to lose.

Chapter One
But for the Grace

The alley wasn’t as dark as Danny would’ve liked, and Evan was driving him crazy, spinning the snub-nose like a cowboy in some Sunday matinee. “Would you put that away?”

“Keeps me cool.” Evan smiled the bar-fight grin that showed his chipped tooth.

“I don’t care if it makes you feel like Rick James. You shouldn’t have brought it.” Danny stared until his partner sighed and tucked the pistol into the back of his belt. Evan had always lived for the thrill of the job, all the way back to when they had stolen forties of Mickeys from the 7-Eleven. But the addition of the gun made Danny uneasy. Made him wonder if Karen was right to suggest he start thinking long-term. Reconsider his options.

He shook his head and stared out the window. Earlier, munching greasy chips in a taco bar across the street, they’d watched the owner of the pawnshop lock up. The dashboard ...

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Reviews

BookBrowse Review

BookBrowse

Wake up and smell the fear! There's a new thriller writer in town who is drawing comparisons to some of the most established names in the business.   (Reviewed by BookBrowse Review Team).

Full Review Members Only (678 words).

Media Reviews

The New York Times - Janet Maslin

The Blade Itself does keep this subject suspenseful: not until the very end of the story is it clear who Danny is or where he stands. His ability to churn these questions so vigorously will bring Mr. Sakey attention and give him a toehold among the crime writers he admires.

Library Journal

Sakey's insights into Danny's struggles to maintain a decent, honest life truly make the story stand out.

Kirkus Reviews

...a valuable addition to Chicago crime lit, a landscape currently dominated by authors of detective stories (Sara Paretsky) and legal thrillers (Scott Turow). A promising start from a writer willing to get deep into a city's grit.

Publishers Weekly

Starred Review. Sakey's brilliant debut, a crime novel set in Chicago, is a must read. From the thrilling opening, a horribly botched pawnshop robbery by childhood friends Evan and Danny, to the riveting ending, the tension ratchets up to almost unbearable levels.

Booklist - Connie Fletcher

Fast pacing, full-bodied if flawed characters, effective use of the Chicago landscape, surprising plot twists, and some thought-provoking musings on the changing nature of longtime friendships give this debut caper novel both substance and suspense. Sakey is a writer to watch.

Author Blurb T. Jefferson Parker, author of The Fallen
The Blade Itself is a terrifically good debut---streetwise, heartfelt, and exciting. I loved this book.

Author Blurb George Pelecanos, author of The Night Gardener
Taut, involving, and memorable. Marcus Sakey is an authentic, original new voice in crime fiction.

Author Blurb Lee Child, author of The Hard Way
A truly excellent debut---like vintage Elmore Leonard crossed with classic Dennis Lehane.”

Reader Reviews

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Beyond the Book

Marcus Sakey was born in Flint, Michigan and graduated from the University of Michigan. He is married and lives in Chicago where he has recently completed his second novel, At the City's Edge (Jan 2008). To prepare for The Blade Itself he shadowed homicide detectives, learned to pick a deadbolt in sixty seconds, and drank plenty of Jameson.

Sakey was motivated to write a book after inviting author J.A. Konrath out for a beer following a speech Konrath gave at Columbia College, which Sakey attended for a short time. When they staggered out of the bar five hours later one ...

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