Society of Midland Authors Free Recommended

When: Tue., Jan. 12, 7 p.m. 2010

Chicago novelists Marcus Sakey (The Amateurs) and Laura Caldwell (Red Blooded Murder) discuss the craft of writing crime fiction. Marcus Sakey has made a veritable cottage industry of well-paced suspense novels about average people who stumble into corruption and quickly find themselves in way over their heads. In his latest execution of the formula, The Amateurs (Dutton)--set against the backdrop of the corporate scandals of the late Bush years--four friends on Chicago's north side conspire to commit the seemingly perfect crime, where the only victim embodies all that they despise. (Local readers will get a kick out of the very contemporary setting; Kuma's Corner and Sheffield's get name checked.) Of course things don't quite go as planned, and in the aftermath the novel's real conflicts emerge. Sakey paints his characters in quick strokes; his strongest gift as a writer is the ability to ratchet up almost unbearable tension. Not surprisingly, his three previous novels have all been optioned off to Hollywood already, and I have to admit I found myself speculating about who might play the leads in this one. --Kathie Bergquist

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