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The Tower

The Tower

4.4 18
by Gregg Hurwitz

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In the bestselling tradition of The Silence of the Lambs comes The Tower, a novel of nail-biting suspense and heart-stopping terror played out in a psychological battle of wit, cunning, and pure evil between a diabolically clever killer and his determined hunter.

Allander Atlasia is an infamous psychopath whose heinous crimes have earned him a lifetime


In the bestselling tradition of The Silence of the Lambs comes The Tower, a novel of nail-biting suspense and heart-stopping terror played out in a psychological battle of wit, cunning, and pure evil between a diabolically clever killer and his determined hunter.

Allander Atlasia is an infamous psychopath whose heinous crimes have earned him a lifetime stay at the Tower (nicknamed Alcatraz II), the world's most extreme maximum-security prison. But after a briliant and brutal escape, the criminal mastermind begins a killing spree that is intensely personal—one by one, victims fall prey to a twisted and chilling re-enactment of his own depraved past.

Jade Marlow is an ex-FBI profiler and tracker whose fearlessness is only surpassed by the severity of his own inner demons. With a record of irrational behavior and a genius for putting himself into the mind of a criminal predator, he may be the one man diabolical enough to catch Atlasia. In an excalating contest of wills and wits, two equally defiant men race toward a showdown where daring is deadly and failure is fatal.

Editorial Reviews

From the Publisher
Peter Hedges author of What's Eating Gilbert Grape In The Tower, Gregg Andrew Hurwitz merges his formidable intellect with his love of a good story. The gratifying result: a smart and impressive first novel where the pages seem to turn themselves.

Publishers Weekly A gripping rogue's gallery of psycho-killer and sociopathic behavior in a hellish setting from which no man escapes alive.

James Thayer author of Terminal Event Allander Atlasia makes Hannibal Lecter look like a sugary little choirboy.

Booklist Compelling....The narration is sharp, and the dialogue jumps off the page....This is the kind of novel that will probably be snapped up by Hollywood, but, once word of mouth picks up, readers might not want to wait for the movie.

Bill Eidson author of Adrenaline and Frames Per Second The Tower is a terrific achievement, big-scale psychological thriller that takes the reader on a rollercoaster ride at breakneck speed.

Library Journal First-time novelist Hurwitz has created two very powerful characters in Atlasia and Marlow, showing thier similarities as well as their obvious differences.

Kate Phillips author of White Rabbit Gregg Andrew Hurwitz stages a gripping psychological battle between a serial killer and the tortured soul who pursues him.

Walt Becker author of Link The Tower is a compelling tale of terror and suspense that illuminates the darkest shadows of the human pysche.

David Pitt
The two central characters in this compelling thriller are exceedingly unlikable: Allander Atlasia, a deeply disturbed criminal who escapes from the Tower, a maximum-security prison, and heads off on a murder spree, and Jade Marlow, a deeply disturbed former FBI agent who now makes his living as a "tracker" and who seems to be the only person who can stop Allander. Readers may have trouble knowing which character to root for, but first-novelist Hurwitz still manages to make us care about what happens. His character aren't likable but they are vividly rendered, the narration is sharp, and the dialogue jumps off the page. The early chapters, describing the Tower and the men imprisoned there, are especially impressive. There are dozens of ways Hurwitz could have imitated other writers here, and dozens of mistakes he could have made. He avoids them all. This is the kind of novel that will probably be snapped up by Hollywood, but, once word of mouth picks up, readers might not want to wait for the movie. An impressive debut.
Booklist \
Publishers Weekly - Publisher's Weekly
The first several chapters of this psychological thriller offer a gripping rogue's gallery of psycho-killers and sociopathic behavior in a hellish setting from which no man escapes alive. The Tower
Library Journal
Just offshore from San Francisco stands the Tower, an ultra-maximum-security federal prison. When Allander Atlasia escapes from the Tower, he kills everyone there except one inmate. The FBI calls in former agent and tracker extraordinaire Jade Marlow, who profiles and hunts felons thought to be impossible to catch. The story follows Marlow's efforts as he tries to ensnare his prey and in the process loses most of his humanity. First novelist Hurwitz has created two very powerful characters in Atlasia and Marlow, showing their similarities as well as their obvious differences. Hurwitz also delves into Freudian psychology in a subplot that addresses Atlasia's drive to kill his father. The disappointment here is Special Agent Jennifer Travers, who instead of being a foil for Marlow ends up as his doormat. The violence of the killings will upset some, but for the most part this is for collections where thrillers are popular. [Previewed in Prepub Alert, LJ 12/98.]--Jo Ann Vicarel, Cleveland Hts.-University Hts. P.L., OH
Kirkus Reviews
Sucker-punching, tongue-in-cheek debut psychokiller tale that spoofs, and tops, the hyper-violent Hollywood genre films that have inspired it. When Wotan, one-eyed FBI puppet-master, decides to put karate-kicking Jade ("shoot first and ask questions later") Marlow, a former agent who left the fold when his superiors questioned his ludicrously over-the-top—if successful—man-hunting techniques, in particular on the Atlasia case, plucky and pretty FBI Travers, one tough lady, warns Wotan that "it'll be like letting a fifteen-year-old loose in a whorehouse, if you pardon my metaphor." "It's a simile," Wotan corrects her, "and I want him." Serial killer Allander Atlasia, an ingenious criminal übermensch who speaks in complete sentences and even uses the expression "pray tell" when lecturing fellow inmates of San Francisco's maximum security Tower prison, has not only flown the coop, but murdered the guards and just about every prisoner there. Marlow, currently self-employed as a bounty hunter specializing in catching bad guys who are wanted DOA, nearly massacres two newspaper reporters when he hears of Atlasia's escape—and it isn't long before he and Travers are bickering, bantering, and trying to figure out why Atlasia removed the eyes from his latest series of victims. The chase awakens slumbering demons inside Marlow, whose relentless pursuit of bad guys, we learn, compensates for a traumatic loss suffered in his childhood. But what about Atlasia's demented upbringing? Was something Oedipal going on with his mother that led him to set squirrels on fire, etc.? Knowing that he'll have to take Atlasia down himself, Marlow handcuffs Travers's ankles together and enduresenough physical torment to knock out Mike Tyson as he tries to stop Atlasia from planning a "Timothy McVeigh special" that will blow the Tower to smithereens. A breezy, funny first outing whose manically cornball dialogue, gross-out brutality, and preposterous action scenes aim low, shoot lower, and hit the target every time. .

Product Details

Simon & Schuster
Publication date:
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Product dimensions:
6.00(w) x 8.90(h) x 1.10(d)

Read an Excerpt

Chapter One

The Tower was magnificent, rooted beneath the swelling waves and standing proudly above the inconsistency of the water. It rose firmly and elegantly, layered with stone over metal, tall and sleek in the salty breeze.

Nicknamed "Alcatraz II" by law enforcers and government officials, and "The Boat Pokey" by inmates across the country, the Peter Briggs Federal Penitentiary was famous for one reason and one reason alone: the Tower. The Tower was conceived over a table covered with cigarette butts and half-drunk cups of coffee at 3:32 in the morning. It had been an election year. Peter Briggs had won the election.

The regular prison, Maingate, framed the end of a peninsula by San Francisco that jutted into the Pacific. It contained the expendable criminal element, those with life sentences doubled back over life sentences. Yet the worst of the worst had a special distinction even within Maingate.

The Tower was fifty yards offshore at low tide. Only about eighteen feet in diameter, it housed twelve levels of prison units, two cells on each floor. It sat within an inlet cut into the craggy walls of the peninsula. When the tide rose, it inched up the side of the structure until only the last two levels peeped out above the water.

A peripheral fence blocked the prison from the vast expanse of sea beyond, its enormous posts grounded with concrete plugs in the ocean floor. Access to the Tower could be gained only by boat, and only from the heavily guarded grounds of Maingate. The guards shuttled back and forth on speedboats like little insects busy at work.

The Tower was constructed to be the most airtight security facility in the world. Like anything built with such exuberance, it had a few design flaws — a few places where overzealousness lapsed into an arrogant carelessness. However, for the most part, the Tower was what it was designed to be: a steel trap.

Level One was used for storage only, so the second level was the lowest floor that housed prisoners. Because it was the darkest, Level Two was referred to as "the Dungeon." The loudest prisoners were kept there so their noise wouldn't disturb the guards.

The first eight levels were always underwater, and the only natural light they received filtered through the steel bars from the floors above. The twelfth level remained empty, for security reasons. Despite the tremendous precautions, the warden felt Level Twelve was just too close to freedom and the guards above.

A large fan, protected by a steel gate, was situated underneath the first level. Piping ran beneath the ocean floor from the mainland, drawing air to feed the fan. But the sluggish movement of the blades was not enough to sweep the musk from the air. Only the top four levels had vents, though those on Level Nine were never opened, as they were almost always beneath the ocean's surface.

A single carbon gaslight was encased in bulletproof glass on every other level, slightly illuminating the metal walls. These bleak lights trailed through the dimness of the Tower, making it seem as thickly claustrophobic as a mine shaft. At night, they were usually turned off.

The interior of the Tower was constructed of thick steel bars. There was barely a quarter of an inch between the bars and the outer wall, which sat over the steel intestines like a stone hide. Not only were the unit walls made from such bars, but also the floors and ceilings.

Home to men who could kill with paper clips and keys, the Tower was designed as the barest possible livable environment. No plaster could be risked for walls, no wood for floors. The steel bars that composed the inside of the Tower had another advantage: They allowed the guards to see through the levels to check on the inmates. Initially, the architects had experimented with an unbreakable glass, but they had found that it fogged heavily with mist from the ocean and created a ventilation nightmare.

The outside wall of each curved cell measured twenty feet, and the cells were five feet in width. Each faced its mirror image across "the Hole," an open cylinder of air that ran straight down the center of the Tower. There were spacings of eight and one-third feet between the units on each side; this ensured that the prisoners never established bodily contact, and that the guards could always remain out of reach.

Due to the fact that the ceiling of each cell also served as the floor for the one above it, the prisoners could most easily communicate with the men directly above or below them. Although this design element may have seemed a lapse in the Tower's tight security, few of the men were tall enough to reach their ceilings, even from their beds. Those who were could hardly get their fingers to the bars, let alone through them. The neck-strained interaction between the floors served the Tower's design: to break the spirits of nearly indomitable men by removing from them all the trappings of civilization.

The cells each had a minuscule toilet with a small tap that swung into place above it, allowing it to double as a sink. The toilets caught the water before it spiraled down through the barred floors. Each unit had a single mattress on a steel frame, and a thick blanket for the chilly nights off the California coast.

The Hole formed the shaft for the platform elevator, four feet in diameter, which was operated by a handheld unit. Precisely framing the elevator was a two-foot platform between the Hole and the unit doors. When not in use, the elevator was raised out of the top of the Hole ten feet in the air, leaving only the dark emptiness below.

When the prisoners were unruly or when it rained (which rarely happened), the large Hatch was swung into place underneath the raised elevator, blocking out all natural light and moisture. However, when the sun was directly overhead and the Hatch was open, light shone through the metal mesh of the raised elevator, and the two men on Level Eleven could see clearly down into the units ten levels beneath them.

A prisoner was shackled around his biceps and wrists when transported, and his thighs were strapped together to allow only minimal leg movement. He was sent down the elevator with a guard on each side. He was always gagged, and often hooded. At all times, one of the two guards had a gun with the safety off trained on the prisoner. The necessity of such seemingly paranoid precautions had been learned at painful expense. Prisoners were only moved once, and they were only moved in.

Before a prisoner was taken to the Tower, a small sensor was surgically embedded in the tip of the ring finger on his left hand. If he escaped, this device allowed his movements to be tracked. The prisoners were put under general anesthesia while the sensors were installed, and were kept heavily drugged until a significant amount of healing had taken place, sometimes five or six days. The Maingate physicians feared if the prisoners fully awakened before then, they would dig the sensors out with their nails and teeth.

Food was delivered to the prisoners twice a day. It came in the form of a large loaf containing all the necessary nutrients to allow an animal to function. A cross between quiche and bread, the loaves were light brown when cooked correctly. They required no plates or silverware, part of the reason for their continued use. They were delivered by a guard at precisely 10:30 A.M. and 7:15 P.M.; he slid them through a small rectangular slot, barely the size of the loaf itself, at the bottom of each unit door.

A long metal arm with two outgrowths at the end was used to guide the loaves through the slot. The loaves were referred to by the inmates as "shithouse bricks." They had minimal taste.

When a prisoner behaved perfectly for a week, he was allowed a large sheet of paper and two crayons with which to entertain himself. A guard held a box through the bars with a metal arm to retrieve the crayons when the time was up. This was called "Sketch Duty."

Sketch Duty was perhaps the only activity that the prisoners unanimously held to be important. It was the sole end of the prisoners' lives to obtain this hour of distraction each week. They could keep the pictures in their cells for two days, then they were removed and taken to be analyzed at the criminal psychology department of the Ressler Institute on the mainland. The pictures were often used in lectures.

Aside from the occasional books they were allowed, Sketch Duty was all that the prisoners had to break the monotony. Inside the Tower, minutes could stretch to hours, hours to lifetimes.

Despair prevailed in the bowels of the prison; nobody would ever be released and nobody had ever escaped its dark confines. The inmates sat pressed against the metal bars of their cramped cells, reciting their tales in the broken tongues of idiots.

Copyright © 2001 by Gregg Andrew Hurwitz

What People are Saying About This

Peter Hedges
In The Tower, GreggAndrew Hurwitz merges his formidable intellect with his love of a good story. The gratifying result: a smart and impressive first novel where the pages seem to turn themselves.
— (Peter Hedges, author of What's Eating Gilbert Grape)
James Thayer
Gregg Andrew Hurwitz puts the pedal to the floor in his first paragraph, and doesn't let it up until the very last page....Don't start this novel in the evening if you need to get up on time and go to work the next morning.
— Author of Five Past Midnight

Meet the Author

Gregg Andrew Hurwitz is a graduate of Harvard and the recipient of a master's degree from Oxford University. This is his first novel. He lives in Los Angeles, California.

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The Tower 4.4 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 18 reviews.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Some of the reviews indicate that Atlasia, the villan, is a worthy successor to Hannibal Lector and THAT IS ACCURATE! There are two main characters in the book, Atlasia, a villan unlike most in his desire to kill and maim as well as the hero, Jade Marlow, a successful 'tracker' with a former FBI background. One would think that Marlow was too tough for the FBI to control as he driven like there is no tomorrow. The tower, itself, is unique and the early part of the book describes a group of prisoners who are scary enough on their own to merit books. Alas, Atlasia proves to be the worse of the clan, escapes, and sets forth on a spree that will keep you reading until the very end. Hopefully, the author will write a sequel so that we can read another Jade Marlow novel soon.
Guest More than 1 year ago
This book is a real sleeper. I found it by reading reviews on bn and I am really glad I read the book. The suspense is wonderful, the characters are believable and quite opposite each other. Every chapter has a twist and turn in it. I hope Mr. Hurwitz will continue writing because he has a loyal fan here and I know anyone who reads this book will become a fan also. Please keep them coming Mr. Hurwitz!
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AnnVR More than 1 year ago
A good read!
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Ed60 More than 1 year ago
While I like Hurwitz's work, the hero this of story was extreemely unbelievable in that his authority and demeanor would never be tolerated in real life. With that being said, I like the plot and the thought processees of both of the two main characters. The psychology in the novel is great and the tensions are taut. Great first novel.
Eric Ravanello More than 1 year ago
flat out amaing book. the character depth is excellent and graphic detail comes across like a movie. i have read it twice already and enjoyed every word each time.
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Guest More than 1 year ago
Teriffic, unable-to-put-down book! This may very well be the BEST psychological thriller I've ever read. Excellently defined characters and non-stop chills. Can't wait 'til Hurwitz' next.
Guest More than 1 year ago
this book was so intense, i couldn't put i down....even at work! i love the characters, all of them. some very gory scenes which i thought were very cool yet very disturbing. i love some of the offbeat humor too. a great read, can't wait for a second book.
Guest More than 1 year ago
Hurwitz is adept at his craft. The Tower is an extraordinary psychological thriller that ranks among the best of the genre, including Silence of the Lambs and Cat & Mouse.
Guest More than 1 year ago
I searched for this book for 2 years before I found it - and I had to order it! Definately not disappointing. Great character depth, could've gone a little further, but overall a fantastic read!