Saturday, July 2, 2011

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

ThrillerFest is fast approaching and I've been fortunate to indulge my love for the genre with Jon Land's Strong at the Break, Joseph Braude's The Honored Dead (which isn't technically a thriller but I think it qualifies), and Marcus Sakey's latest novel, The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. 
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

The blurb:
A man wakes naked and cold, half-drowned on an abandoned beach.

The only sign of life for miles is an empty BMW.  Inside the expensive car he finds clothes that fit perfectly, shoes for his tattered feet, a Rolex, and an auto registration in the name of Daniel Hayes.

None of it is familiar.

Now did he get here? Who is he?  While he searches for answers, the world searches for him-- beginning with the cops that kick in the door of his dingy motel with guns drawn.  Lost and alone, the man who might be Daniel Hayes flees into the night.

All he remembers is a woman's face, so he sets off for the only place he might find her.  The fantasy of her becomes his home, his world, his hope.  And maybe, just maybe, the way back to himself.

Marcus Sakey's latest novel doesn't read like your typical thriller.  While it has the suspense, plot twists, and excitement in spades, Sakey's writing  is more complex and clearer.  It's a psychological drama with the excitement and action of a thriller. 

It opens with Daniel Hayes, wet and naked on a beach in Maine.  He comes across  clues to what seems to be his life, but he everything is hazy and uncertain.  He thinks he owns the BMW, that his name is Daniel Hayes, he dreams of this beautiful woman who he also sees on TV.   The only thing that seems real to him is his connection to this actress/soap opera character and so he travels across the U.S. to California to find this woman.  As he slowly realizes which of his memories are real, he tries to piece together what his life had been, what he might have done, and what dangers he faces.  But his loss of memory hasn't put the world on hold - the dangers that surrounded him, that had caused him to attempt suicide in Maine, still exist. And his enemies are still out there - even as he fails to recognize them.

Daniel's skills remain and he faces the dangers of the present and the ghosts of his past.  It's an exciting, engrossing read - highly entertaining and very much recommended!

ISBN-10: 052595211X - Hardcover $25.95
Publisher: Dutton Adult (June 9, 2011), 400 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher and Kaye Tours.

About the Author:
Marcus Sakey is the author of The Amateurs, Good People, At the City's Edge and The Blade Itself.   His books have been nominated for more than a dozen awards, named to multiple "Year's Best" lists, and translated into numerous languages.  Born in Flint, Michigan, he now lives in Chicago with his wife.

Thursday, June 30, 2011

Insatiable by Meg Cabot

Insatiable by Meg Cabot
The blurb:
Meena Harper is familiar with the supernatural.  After all, she knows how you're going to die.  (Not that you're going to believe her.  No one ever does.)

But not even Meena's precognition can prepare her for Lucien Antonescu--whom she meets and then makes the mistake of falling in love with -- a modern-day prince with a bit of a dark side for which an ancient society of vampire hunters would prefer to see him dead.

The problem is Lucien's already dead.  Maybe that's why he's the first guy Meena's ever met with whom she could imagine herself having a future.  See, while Meena's always been able to see everyone else's destiny, she's never been able to look into her own.  Lucien seems to be everything Meena has ever dreamed of in a boyfriend, though he might turn out to be more of a nightmare.

In Insatiable, Meg Cabot gives us her witty and modernized take on a familiar literary character.

Meena Harper is a screenwriter for a popular daytime soap renting a luxurious 2 BR in a coop on Park Avenue.  Her job rewards her for her convoluted plots and flights of fancy, and in many ways she's living the life she's always wanted.  Though even the life of a well regarded tv screenwriter has its downsides, such as the producers that she works for and the bloodsport that is office politics.  And that's just her work life.

Her unique ability to know how other people will die puts added stress on her day.  Meena can't keep herself from trying to help/warn people as best she can.  This sometimes creates awkward social situations and often leads to misunderstandings.  Her love life has puttered out and she's limited herself to a handful of very close friends with whom she doesn't have to hide. 

Her fortuitous meeting with Professor Lucien Antonescu changes everything.  He saves her life so graciously, he doesn't make a fuss about it.  She's somehow free from discovering how he will die, and he seems to read her mind. 

Lucien's led a solitary and lonely life. He hasn't been drawn to anyone in hundreds of years, but this changes when he meets Meena Harper.  He tries to woo her - brings her to the Metropolitan Museum after hours - and sweeps her off her feet.   When Meena discovers just why Lucien seems so different, she's torn. 

I found Insatiable to be a fun, engrossing read.  I loved Meg Cabot's twist on the old familiar. It helped that she set the novel in NYC and in my old UES neighborhood.  The book came alive for me and I recommend it highly.  The one thing that stood out though - Meena has dark, almost black hair and dark eyes in the novel but the book's cover shows a redhead with blue eyes.

ISBN-10: 0061735086 - Paperback $14.99
Publisher: William Morrow Paperbacks; Reprint edition (June 7, 2011), 464 pages.
Review copy provided by the publisher.

About the Author:
Meg Cabot was born in Bloomington, Indiana.  In addition to writing adult contemporary fiction, she is the author of the bestselling young adult fiction series The Princess Diaries.  She lives in Key West, Florida with her husband.  Learn more about her at