Marcus Sakey's The Blade Itself, has been the recipient of more advance praise than any mystery in recent memory. So, of course I was skeptical. Turns out I didn't need to be, as The Blade Itself is a strikingly good first novel. Danny Carter harbors a secret: Several years back, he was involved in a robbery that went bad. His partner, Evan McGann, was caught and sent directly to jail, without passing go, and without collecting $200. Danny, on the other hand, went straight, and made a good life for himself, with only occasional furtive glances in the rearview mirror. Now Evan is out on parole and he wants Danny's help to set up a new caper. Danny wants no part of it, but Evan holds the trump card Danny could lose everything if Evan were to turn on him. An impossible choice, but one that Sakey develops intricately and believably to a high-tension conclusion. The Blade Itself is a strong early candidate for Whodunit's best first mystery novel of 2007.

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