Illinois State Library

Illinois Center for the Book

Individual Author Record

General Information

Name:  Marcus Sakey  

Pen Name: None


Audience: Adult;

Born: 1974 in Flint, Michigan

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Illinois Connection

Sakey moved to Chicago in 2002. He graduated from Columbia College Chicago and still resides in the Windy City today.

Biographical and Professional Information

Marcus Sakey's thrillers have been nominated for more than fifteen awards, named New York Time's Editor's Picks, selected among Esquire's Top 5 Books of The Year and translated into numerous languages. His novel, ''Good People'' was made into a movie starring James Franco and Kate Hudson, and BRILLIANCE is currently in development with Legendary Pictures (Inception, The Dark Knight.)In 2011, Sakey was the host of the acclaimed television show ''Hidden City'' on the Travel Channel. It was a show about US cities and their famous crimes. The first city he highlighted was none other than his own town of Chicago. Prior to writing, he worked as a landscaper, a theatrical carpenter, a 3D animator, a movie reviewer, a tutor, and a graphic designer.

Published Works Expand for more information

Titles At Your Library

The Blade Itself: A Novel
ISBN: 0312360312

Minotaur Books. 2007

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.

At the City's Edge
ISBN: 0312360320

Minotaur Books. 2008

Jason Palmer loved being a soldier. But after returning home from Iraq with an "other than honorable" discharge, he's finding rebuilding his life the toughest battle yet.
Elena Cruz is a talented cop, the first woman to make Chicago's prestigious Gang Intelligence Unit. She's ready for anything the job can throw at her.
Until Jason's brother, a prominent community activist, is murdered in front of his own son.
Now, stalked by brutal men with a shadowy agenda, Jason and Elena must unravel a conspiracy stretching from the darkest alleys of the ghetto to the manicured lawns of the city's power brokers. In a world where corruption and violence are simply the cost of doing business, two damaged people are all that stand between an innocent child--and the killers who will stop at nothing to find him.

Good People
ISBN: 0525950842

Dutton Adult. 2008

Deeply in debt after years of failed infertility treatments, Tom and Anna Reed believe that they have been given a second chance when their downstairs tenant, a hermit, dies in his sleep, leaving $400,000 stashed in his kitchen, but they soon discover that their reclusive tenant had been a criminal who had betrayed some of the most dangerous men in Chicago. 40,000 first printing.

SIN: A Deadly Anthology
ISBN: 0974793469

Avendia Publishing Inc.. 2008

SIN is the first in a new series of provocative anthologies delving into human behavior. Written by top Chicago-based fiction authors, SIN's short stories explore how we as ordinary men and women cope with circumstances that test our convictions: a loving husband's desperation during the Katrina disaster (Paoletti), a woman's struggle to accept family secrets that contradict stories she heard as a child (Campbell), a contract killer's reassessment of morality and duty as he carries out his final assignment (Frieden), a young woman's life-changing altercation with a Chicago gang (Borcherts), and so much more. The stories range from crime mysteries, to fantasy to noir. The second in the series, SEX: A Dangerous Anthology, is due out in 2011.

The Amateurs
ISBN: 0525951261

Dutton Adult. 2009

New from the "reigning prince of crime fiction"*: For four friends, there's only one thing more dangerous than the men chasing them. Each other.

In just three novels, Marcus Sakey has staked a claim as "an astoundingly good writer,"* one whose believable characters-always ordinary people-face excruciating situations with life- or-death consequences. The Amateurs asks a chilling question: Do you get what you deserve, or what you take?

Alex is failing as a father. Ian keeps dangerous secrets. Jenn is pining for adventure Mitch is pining for Jenn. Four friends just getting by. Every Thursday night they've found solace in a couple of beers and a couple of laughs. But months turn to years, and suddenly a decade is gone. None of them are where-or who-they hoped to be.

And they've decided to do something about it. To stop waiting, and start taking.

But what was supposed to be a victimless crime has become a bloody nightmare. People have been killed. A child is in danger. Ruthless men pursue them with relentless fury. And tensions they thought were long-buried threaten to destroy them. As their whole world begins to unravel, each will have to choose between their own life and the lives of others-including their best friends.

The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
ISBN: 052595211X

Dutton. 2011

Marcus Sakey returns with his most ambitious novel, a captivating story of love and memory, where the only thing more frightening than the questions are the answers. A man wakes up 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 a bank envelope stuffed with cash and an auto registration in the name of Daniel Hayes, resident of Malibu, California.

None of it is familiar.

What is he doing here? How did he get into the ocean? Is he Daniel Hayes, and if so, why doesn't he remember? While he searches for answers, the world searches for him-beginning with the police that kick in the door of his dingy motel, with guns drawn. Lost, alone, and on the run, 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.

But that raises the most chilling question of all: What will he find when he gets there?

Brilliance (The Brilliance Trilogy)
ISBN: 1611099692

Thomas & Mercer. 2013

In Wyoming, a little girl reads people’s darkest secrets by the way they fold their arms. In New York, a man sensing patterns in the stock market racks up $300 billion. In Chicago, a woman can go invisible by being where no one is looking. They’re called “brilliants,” and since 1980, one percent of people have been born this way. Nick Cooper is among them a federal agent, Cooper has gifts rendering him exceptional at hunting terrorists. His latest target may be the most dangerous man alive, a brilliant drenched in blood and intent on provoking civil war. But to catch him, Cooper will have to violate everything he believes in—and betray his own kind.

From Marcus Sakey, “a modern master of suspense” (Chicago Sun-Times) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), comes an adventure that’s at once breakneck thriller and shrewd social commentary a gripping tale of a world fundamentally different and yet horrifyingly similar to our own, where being born gifted can be a terrible curse.

A 2013 Edgar Award Nominee

“The kind of story you’ve never read before.” —Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher Series

“Ridiculously good. I love this story so much.” —Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl

Nominated for the Edgar, Lovey, Sideways, and Prometheus awards.

A Better World (The Brilliance Trilogy)
ISBN: 1477823948

Thomas & Mercer. 2014

The brilliants changed everything. Since 1980, one percent of the world has been born with gifts we’d only dreamed of. The ability to sense a person’s most intimate secrets, or predict the stock market, or move virtually unseen. For thirty years the world has struggled with a growing divide between the exceptional…and the rest of us.

Now a terrorist network led by brilliants has crippled three cities. Supermarket shelves stand empty. 911 calls go unanswered. Fanatics are burning people alive.

Nick Cooper has always fought to make the world better for his children. As both a brilliant and an advisor to the president of the United States, he’s against everything the terrorists represent. But as America slides toward a devastating civil war, Cooper is forced to play a game he dares not lose—because his opponents have their own vision of a better world.

And to reach it, they’re willing to burn this one down.

From Marcus Sakey, “the master of the mindful page turner” (Gillian Flynn) and “one of our best storytellers” (Michael Connelly), Book Two of the Brilliance Saga is a relentless thrill ride that will change the way you look at your world—and the people around you.

“The kind of story you’ve never read before.” —Lee Child, New York Times bestselling author of the Jack Reacher Series

“Ridiculously good. I love this story so much.” —Gillian Flynn, New York Times bestselling author of Gone Girl

“Simply put, Marcus Sakey's Brilliance saga is awesome.” —Kirkus


The Blade Itself

  • Strand Critic's Award
  • Esquire Five Best Reads List
  • 2016 ILLINOIS READS Book

    Speaking Engagements

    Speaking Engagement Availability (Yes)