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Sunday, January 3, 2010

The Amateurs

Marcus Sakey's The Amateurs follows 4 friends (Jenn, Mitch, Ian & Alex) who live wholly unsatisfying lives. They all have big-time secrets that they hide from each other, but are still best friends who meet once a week at a bar to talk (Alex is the bartender there). One night, Alex happens across his boss' safe and sees a ton of money that obviously isn't coming from the bar. A bit later, the boss asks Alex to act as muscle for a shady deal in the back office.

Seemingly on a whim, the 4 friends (after some coercion to get everyone to agree) decide to rob Alex's boss. They all have plans for their share of the money. The plan is simple... Alex will act as muscle. Ian & Mitch will come in, rob the guys & tie them up. Jenn will be waiting out back with the getaway car. And the plan goes to perfection... until the 2 guys get out and see an obstacle in their path... someone talking to a really uncomfortable Jenn. A shot rings out, and just like that, the 4 friends are dealing not only with shady money (that was going towards something much bigger and much more deadly than drugs), but also a body.

They decide to sit on the money until things clear up, causing issues for Ian, who had borrowed guns with the promise to return them & pay some money that he owed in a couple of days. Throw in all the secrets the quartet had shooting out, a quick implosion of their friendship and the 'bad guys' coming after them hard to get not only the money but something else the friends have, and things aren't looking good. And when the issue becomes that of national security, things get blown apart.

The story is an alright one. The plot seems a bit poorly planned out, and the national security issue that shows up at the end just doesn't work too well. You don't feel much sympathy, if any, for the characters who have been working towards the end by hiding big secrets from each other and carrying out a poorly planned scheme to try and get rich quick.

That said, it wasn't all that bad. I've definitely read worse, though not in recent time, for what it's worth.