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Sakey (The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes) paints a near future too close for comfort in this stunning thriller, the first in a projected series. About 1% of American children born after 1986-known as abnorms, among other names-are particularly brilliant. A tiny percentage of these are problematic, like Erik Epstein, who understood stock market movements so well he made a fortune that led to the permanent closing of the New York Stock Exchange in 2011. Nick Cooper, a divorced former soldier and a member of Equitable Services, a U.S. government agency with the responsibility of tracking and killing abnorm terrorists, plays a dangerous cat-and-mouse game with the terrorists' leader, John Smith, and with Shannon Azzi, Smith's agent. Cooper calls Shannon "the Girl Who Walks Through Walls" for her ability to appear out of nowhere. When Cooper's children come under threat, he pretends to defect from Equitable Services and reluctantly teams with Shannon. He soon finds his world giddily turning upside down while he sacrifices almost everything for justice and equality. In this parable of democracy's downfall told in rapid-fire cuts, Sakey upends truths Cooper once thought self-evident, the truths people don't seem to want any more, preferring instead, "safe lives and nice electronics and full fridges"-nothing less than the tragedy of our times. Agent: Scott Miller, Trident Media Group. (July) (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved.
From Booklist, Copyright © American Library Association. Used with permission.
*Starred Review* Sakey, who built a following by putting average people in grave danger from remorseless killers (The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, 2011), veers in a new direction: Brilliance posits that, in 1980, 1 in every 100 children born in the U.S. proved to be a savant. Three decades later, these unique geniuses have changed the U.S.; the abnormals are titans, and ordinary Americans are irrelevant. One ab quickly built a $300 billion fortune and destabilized the world economy, while another, Nick Cooper, is the top agent in the Equitable Response Unit of the federal Department of Analysis and Response (DAR). Cooper sees himself as a soldier in an undeclared war against abs who have turned to terrorism. But when he intuits that his four-year-old daughter may be an ab, he is torn because she will be taken from him, given a new name, and kept in one of several DAR-run academies, which he discovers are brainwashing centers. Sakey's premise is utterly compelling; no committed thriller aficionado will be able to set the book down. His complex characters are deeply engaging, and his writing is propulsive. Best, however, is his insightful evocation of government and popular reaction to the brilliants. We've already seen it: in doctrines of preemptive war, enhanced interrogation techniques, the Patriot Act, the civil rights struggle, and the ginned-up, gnawing fear that sets Americans against Americans. Brilliance is disturbing and brilliant.--Gaughan, Thomas Copyright 2010 Booklist
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Cooper works for the Department of Analysis and Response, an agency like our Homeland Security but even more secret. The agency's charge is to capture and eliminate terrorists among the supersmart ("abnorms," "twists"). Cooper is the department's ace. Alone among his associates, he himself is a brilliant. He sees patterns where no one else does and reacts more quickly and effectively. Master terrorist John Smith has eluded capture for years. Then his followers carry out a horrific massacre on Wall Street, leaving hundreds dead and maimed. Cooper comes up with a plan to catch the terrorist by going rogue. The department will chase Cooper into Smith's arms, and when he finds Smith, he'll kill him. Nothing turns out as expected, though, and in the process Cooper learns unpleasant truths about his very paranoid world. The result is a work that is both a thriller and a respectable novel of ideas. VERDICT Sakey's (The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes; Good People) is one of the more surprising thrillers of the year. It should appeal to both sf and mystery lovers.-David Keymer, Modesto, CA (c) Copyright 2013. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.