Skip to main content

The Two Death of Daniel Hayes - Review

I remember back to Mr. Sakey's first book, THE BLADE ITSELF. It was exciting. Along with Sean Chercover, Mr Sakey was new and very good. He wrote a lean thriller that was high on actual thrills and low on preposterous male testosterone fantasies. His characters where regular guys who were caught up in circumstance. One of the reasons Mr. Sakey's books have worked for me is that simple fact. He didn't write about bitter former FBI agents with a dizzying array of ways to kill me. But for a stupid decision here or careless remark there you could be a character in a Mr. Sakey's novel. 

THE TWO DEATHS OF DANIEL HAYES is the latest from Mr. Sakey and it has stiff competition. His previous opus, THE AMATEURS, ranks as one of the few books I read in one sitting. To write that THE AMATEURS was engrossing is an understatement. So how does TWO DEATHS match up? Sadly, it is the lesser, and as I look back over Mr. Sakey's three other books I have to say it comes up short there as well.

Daniel wakes up on a beach in Maine. He is cold, wet and devoid of much of his memory. He pieces a few clues together. The car nearby is his, and with California plates he realizes he is far from home. He makes it back to California only to discover that he is suspect number one in the murder of his actress wife. Complicating the issue is a shadowy figure, Bennett, who is hellbent on discovering the whereabouts of a missing necklace, and assumes Daniel knows the location. A young women, Belinda, is also prowling around the periphery of both men while she hides a secret that will change everything.

That secret is revealed about two-thirds of the way through the book, and it does in fact change everything. The reveal is handled well, and when it does come it is a bit of shock. Mr. Sakey has always used these game changing moments to their fullest effect. They are a challenge to the reader's expectations. In this case, he literally gets to take the narrative of TWO DEATHS in another direction. And it works... for awhile.

The cause for concern here are the three main characters of TWO DEATHS. Daniel is, well, kind of douche. He is not particularly engaging, and comes off as a surface and shallow individual. The 'Every Man' quality that works for Mr. Sakey's lead characters is just flat-out missing here. Bennett is the kind of character that I have come to really dislike in thrillers. Every response, whether with words or a gun, is always so polished and practiced. Tens steps ahead of everyone and deathly boring because of it. Belinda is perhaps the most complex of the bunch. She has actual secrets, and until Mr. Sakey reveals them the passages with her are easily the best of the book. However, once her ultimate secret is given up, Belinda like Daniel and Bennett loses her reason for being.

I'll close by writing this. I still enjoyed this book a great deal. Mr. Sakey is an accomplished storyteller, and TWO DEATHS is no different. For me, the guts of this book did not work, but its construction is without question top notch, like clockwork. And as I explained to a friend, lesser Marcus Sakey is still better than most everyone else.

Comments

Popular posts from this blog

The Very Best of Mr. Dennis Lehane

I thought this post would appear in October. Ya, know when SHUTTER ISLAND: THE MOVIE was supposed to be released. And then it wasn't. Something about Leo not being able to do 'press' for the movie. Doesn't really matter the reason, a February release date has one of those fancy Hollywood meanings: Not Good.

Look I'll be honest, I didn't connect with SHUTTER ISLAND. I loved the fifties setting, the haunted house atmosphere, and impending doom of the Hurricane. Even the set-up of the story was intriguing but how it played out just didn't work for me. Some interesting characters, a bunch of great set pieces, but the ending announces itself with an expected, thud that went nowhere.

Am I still going to the movie? Its Lehane, Scorsese, Leo, and Ruffalo of course I am. Anyway the list.

8. Prayers for Rain - 1999
The last Kenzie-Gennaro book follows our heroes as they investigate a guy who is terrorizing women into committing suicide. The book played like an episode o…

Time, Hand Wringing, and Cari Mora

My first question about the new Thomas Harris novel, CARI MORA is... Is this big news? My immediate reaction was to be only mildly excited. Despite the fact that over the last 10 years, Google has received the following searching requests from me: 'New Thomas Harris 2012,' New Thomas Harris 2016, etc. CARI MORA marks Mr. Harris's first book in 13 years. I should be pumping my fist. It was only when I read the brief synopsis did my interest tick up because I was thankful to read Mr. Harris had left his singular creation behind, at least for this book.
I think the easy answer is yes, this is undoubtedly big news. The reason why is obvious. THE SILENCE OF THE LAMBS is the most important Crime Thriller release of the last 30 years and I don't think there is an argument to be made against it. There may be better-written books, but no other book has the impact that LAMBS continues to have to this day. I think what complicates this question is the legacy that the book left b…

The Very Best of Mr. Michael Connelly - Part 2

My August 31 post of The Hungry Detective ranked all the non-Bosch books. This list returns to take on the larger task of Mr. Heironimous Bosch. 9 Dragons made its appearance right before the Indy B'Con, and try as I might... ok I didn't try that hard... I didn't have time to read it for inclusion in these rankings.

As a quick aside I don't want to undersell any of the books at the bottom of the list. Mr. Connelly doesn't know how to write a bad book, but in my case there have been occasions where I have not connected with his work.

13. THE NARROWS - 2004
It is because I love THE POET so much that this book is at the end of the list. When Mr. Connelly is at his best his works has the precision of a watchmaker. THE NARROWS just felt forced and not worthy of the intricacy of THE POET.

12. BLACK ICE - 1993
Second book. Third read. I thought the story was pretty flat. It has been well over a decade since I read this book, but the story of Mexican drug runners(?) did not do …