Review: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey

June 7, 2011 Dutton, Mystery/Suspense, Penguin, Review, Thriller 9

  • Hardcover: 400 pages
  • Publisher: Dutton Adult (June 9, 2011)
  • ISBN-10: 052595211X
  • Source: Publisher

    A man wakes up, naked and cold, on a isolated beach.  He doesn’t recall why he is there or how he got there.  Actually, he remembers nothing at all.  He finds an abandoned BMW and climbs inside; the car seems familiar and while rummaging through the glove box he finds the registration is made out to Daniel Hayes. Assuming this is his car, he continues rummaging through the glove box and finds a gun.  Becoming more and more concerned by the minute, Daniel is dead set on discovering the course of events that led him to this beach. 

    The registration he finds indicates he is from California; a check of the license plates confirms this.  Based on the temperature, Daniel assumes he’s somewhere along the upper east coast.   Most people would call the police, but Daniel has a nagging feeling he should avoid the police at all cost. His feelings are confirmed when the police bust in to his room at a motel; luckily Daniel isn’t in the room at the time.  He sees flashes of images of a young, beautiful woman, so he does what seems logical: go back to California; answers will be found there.

    Along the way, he discovers why the police are after him: his wife, a gorgeous actress is dead.  When the police wanted to question him about her death-a murder-Daniel turns up missing.  Daniel is forced to rediscover his identity while at the same time evading the police.

    This is the part of the review where I say JUST GO BUY IT.  For real!  I discovered Sakey about a year or so ago, based on a recommendation by Jen Forbus (Jen’s Book Thoughts) who just happens to also appear in the book as a character.  Here is one of the passages in which she is mentioned:

     “You’re going to get a lawyer.  A criminal lawyer.  I’ll call my friend Jen Forbus .  She makes Johnnie Cochran look like Mr. Bean.”

    Those that know Jen well know that she’s the queen of crime fiction. If she says you need to read a book, you need to read that book.

    As I was saying…I discovered Sakey’s writing nearly a year ago. I loved every single book he’s ever written, my favorite being Good People, so I knew that I would love The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes. What I didn’t know was how much I would love this book.  I was literally knocked off my feet with excitement and anticipation within the first few lines:

    “He was naked and cold, stiff with it, his veins ice and frost.”


    Hello, if that’s not enough to get your attention, I don’t know what is!  That’s just the tip of the iceberg…the genius continues through every page of this book.  What impressed me the most was the development of the characters: we discover who Daniel is as he does, we experience his recollection of memories along with him. Sakey does it at a moderate pace, not rushing through to the reveal.  The reader feels the anguish and fear that Daniel feels as he’s slowly uncovering the horrid turn of events that caused his amnesia. 

    I’m known to attempt to figure out the ending as I read, usually I’m pretty successful.  However this time I was stumped, each time I thought I knew the “culprit” I was thrown for another loop.  When I finally came to the end, the only words I could utter were: “Holy Sh*t!”  Still, two days after reading this book, those are still the only two words I can use to describe how this book made me feel. 

    So go now, preorder this book.  I guarantee you won’t regret it.

    9 Responses to “Review: The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes by Marcus Sakey”

    1. Lynne Perednia
      Twitter: Perednia

      So looking forward to this one. Thanks for the great start to the day — an enthusiastic review is the best way to get things rolling!

    2. Jen Forbus
      Twitter: jenforbus

      Wow! I’ve never been called the Queen before! 😉 Thanks Jenn, and I’m so very, very happy that you loved this one as much as I did. We’re going to have to chat more about it out of the eyes of folks who haven’t read it yet!!

    3. Kay

      OK, I read Jen’s enthusiasm about this book and have indeed put it on my wishlist. However, she didn’t share the part that she was a character in the book. Wow. Is that two times now? She’s famous again. 🙂

    4. Amy
      Twitter: JustBookReading

      This isn’t my normal reading but your enthusiam totally makes me want to buy this one now. Thanks!

    5. bermudaonion (Kathy)
      Twitter: bermudaonion

      When I saw your review, I thought, “Isn’t that the author Jen Forbus loves so much?” Between the two of you, I’m convinced! I’m adding Sakey’s work to my wish list.

    6. Bill Godshalk

      My copy just arrived, and I have only read the first few pages. But it seems to me that Sakey is playing on our primal fear of identity loss. Those who live in and/or have lived in Maine (where the action begins) know how lonely a Maine beach can be — especially if you happen to be naked and without knowledge of who you are and why you are here. Wherever “here” may be. Obviously the beach is a liminal area waiting to be defined.

    7. Swapna
      Twitter: skrishna

      I have this one and can’t wait to read it!

    8. jimmy

      I just finished reading The Two Deaths of Daniel Hayes, after reading The Blade Itself, and, then ordering all of his books. He is one teriffic writer. When I finished TTDofDH, i was left scratching my head a bit. Did I miss something? The last page, threw me a curve I wasn’t expecting. Any interpretations would be most welcome. Was det. Waters, Bennets in at the LAPD? And if so, what did Bennet have on him?