Review: When a terrorist act destroys a newly reopened stock exchange in Manhattan, killing nearly 1000 people in the process, Nick Cooper, a federal agent with the elite Equitable Services division of the Department of Analysis and Response, volunteers to go deep undercover to bring the culprits to justice, in Brilliance, the first thriller in this alternate reality series by Marcus Sakey.
Thirty years ago a tiny percentage of Americans were identified as "brilliants", people with extraordinary intelligence and gifts of analysis and perception. In the time since, these "abnorms", as they are typically referred to, came to be both respected and feared for their abilities by the powers that be. Continually marginalized at the fringes of society, a small number rebelled and began a series of terrorist acts to focus attention on their plight. At the same time, some brilliants, classified as tier ones, began to change the shape of America. One in particular, Erik Epstein, accumulated hundreds of billions of dollars in profits from the New York Stock Exchange before it was permanently shut down, to be replaced by a new exchange, which became the target of one John Smith, the most feared — and most wanted — abnorm in the country. It is believed Smith has retreated to the New Canaan Holdfast, a vast expanse of Wyoming purchased by Epstein and the home to brilliants fleeing government tyranny. Cooper, an brilliant himself, proposes to publicly take responsibility for the stock exchange terrorist act and work his way into the inner circle of the exiled brilliants.
It is obvious while reading Brilliance that the author wrote it to be the first in a film franchise. Indeed, the book was optioned before its publication date. Everything about it is cinematic in style and scope, from its (thin and relatively undeveloped) characters and its iconic settings to its dynamic and visually exciting action scenes. The storyline draws parallels to (and makes repeated references to) many times in history when one group of people tried to dominate or control another, most specifically whites and slavery, and Nazis and Jews. (The latter is particularly obvious with the New Canaan Holdfast carved out of the American West being the equivalent of the establishment of Israel in the Middle East.) The big twist is foreshadowed early, but still packs a punch when it happens. There are the inevitable plot holes, or plot conveniences, that allow the action to move forward quickly and seamlessly, but for all its literary faults, and there are many, credit the author's skills as a writer for still creating a very entertaining book.
Acknowledgment: Thomas & Mercer provided an eARC of Brilliance for this review.
Review Copyright © 2013 — Hidden Staircase Mystery Books — All Rights Reserved
Selected reviews of other mysteries by this author …
The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes
Dutton (Hardcover), June 2011
ISBN-13: 9780525952114; ISBN-10: 052595211X
Location(s) referenced in Brilliance: New York City; Wyoming; Washington DC
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Brilliance by Marcus Sakey
Publisher: Thomas & Mercer
Format: Trade Paperback
Publication Date: June 2011
List Price: $14.95
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Page Author: Lance Wright
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