“The Survivor”: Man On A Ledge….
14 January, 2014
The Survivor was named as the best thriller of 2012.
It’s surprising, and unfortunate, that Gregg Hurwitz (who feels “sometimes what is left out is more chilling than what is on the pages”) is not that popular in India, considering that his stories have all the ingredients that we love: easy prose, violence, witty dialogues with the right sense of timing, suspense, fast action and family bonding in the right doses.
His books have been described as “Pure All-Night-Suspense” by Harlan Coben and “Pure Adrenaline” by David Baldacci.
This novel has an explosive beginning when Nate, an ex-war veteran, foils a bank robbery he witnesses accidentally, while contemplating suicide on a high-rise building’s ledge.
He feels since he was going to kill himself anyway, he might as well step in and save some lives.
The story is unusual because the hero Nate has nothing left to live for: with a post-traumatic war stress, a failed marriage (his wife has already found someone) and a daughter he loves dearly but who does not seem to reciprocate.
There is one more reason for Nate to think of killing himself, revealed in the first chapters.
With his military background, he manages to kill five robbers (the sixth one manages to escape) and instantly, becomes a (reluctant) hero.
This results in Nate and his family threatened by a cold-blooded Ukrainian criminal who planned the robbery which was a ploy to steal contents from a bank locker.
(“There is nowhere you and your family can go, that my money cannot not reach.”)
Later in the story, a suicide does take place but it’s not Nate.
The book’s best parts are the atrocious situations Nate finds himself in and incredibly, coming out generally unscathed, only to get in another dubious situation.
The mobster has never faced an adversary like Nate.
How can you threaten to kill someone when that person has no reason to live?
With a sadistic gang who kill “just to check the alignment of their guns”, there is only way the story can end.
In the end, it’s about amendments and justice.
And it’s in a predictable end: Nate finally finds redemption.
The Survivor does strike as an ironical name for this story.
As a family member puts it: It’s better to die right than to live wrong….
There are lot of touching interactions between Nate’s ex-wife and his daughter, a confused teen and her boyfriend (a vegetarian who eats bacon!) who Nate takes an instant dislike to, like all fathers, though, later, he softens his attitude towards the boyfriend in a convincing manner.
In addition to being a writer, Hurwitz also writes screenplays, is a Howard and an Oxford graduate, loves Shakespeare and is also a graphic-novel writer, recently for “The Dark Knight Rises.”
If you are new to his work: please start with “They’re Watching”, written in 2011 and more recently: “Tell No Lies.”
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