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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


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

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.
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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. .

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.

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Simon & Schuster
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Read an Excerpt


He didn't sleep well, but then he never did. He woke in the night and it seemed as if he had been awake all along. He tried to close his eyes and let sleep wash over him again, but it didn't.

Throwing back the covers, he swung his feet over the edge of the bed and rested his hands on his knees. The first light of morning showed through the blinds. Soft morning light, still dull around the edges. He shook his head, rubbed his eyes, and stood up.

The dim light cut him at the waist and shadowed the muscles in his stomach. He ran his hand hard across the back of his neck and stretched his shoulders. The greenness of his eyes was startling; they seemed to draw the dim light of the room into themselves. Green, flickering gems set in the dark silhouette of a face.

Picking up a thin chain from the nightstand, he examined it for a moment before putting it on. He had worn the chain for years, though he had long since removed the medical tags it once held.

He pulled the blinds up. It was 5:26 in the morning and the air was still a heavy gray. He went into the kitchen and took a healthy swig from a carton of milk. The house was impeccably neat, as if some divine hand had swept things into order. He placed the milk back in the refrigerator, pushing it gently into line with the other items.

The living room was adjacent to the kitchen, and he went and lay across the couch. The room seemed empty although it was filled with furniture. It was sparsely but well decorated.

He grabbed the remote from the glass table and flicked on the TV without looking at it. Blue light danced across his face and the hum of voices filled the room. He gazed at the ceiling, shut his eyes, and counted as he breathed. He was still for a long time. It was a forced restfulness.

Finally, he got up and went to the bedroom. Lying backward on the bed, he put his feet on the wall. He reached into a drawerful of papers in his nightstand. On top was a Phi Beta Kappa key. His dirty little secret. He turned it aside and dug deeper, pulling out a racquetball.

He squeezed it, then threw it at the wall, catching it in front of his face. The ball's rhythm relaxed him, the tick against the wall, the tock against his palm.

The television sounded from the other room. The sounds of six in the morning. "Tired of spending another night rearranging your sock drawer? Well, now's your chance! It's time to be social -- but not in a way that'll make you uncomfortable, like in all those singles bars."

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. Each time he caught the ball, he gave it a firm squeeze, pressing his fingertips into its soft surface. Tick. Tock.

"I never thought it would be so easy. I just pick up the phone and I have a whole network of friends to talk to."

He looked over at his phone. It was like the President's line. It usually rang out.

Tick. Tock. Tick. Tock. He was into the four hundreds when he lost count. The ball became a blue blur, a line to the wall and back to his face. He threw and caught, threw and caught as the sun made its tedious ascent outside his window.

At about seven, he got up and went into the study. He pulled a pistol from the top-left drawer and felt its familiar balance in his hand. It was a Sig Sauer, government issue, a weapon he had learned to use and love in his Quantico days.

He went to the dining room and gazed out across his front yard. There was a difference in the air that he could taste, as if something was about to fall out of place.

He twirled the pistol around his finger, cocked it and uncocked it expertly with his thumb, and twirled it again. A mail truck made its way slowly up the street, stopping at each house. It passed his mailbox without slowing and went to the next.

Pulling a chair around the table to face the window, he sat down, leaning back so two of the chair's legs tilted off the ground. The early morning joggers were out: a tired middle-aged man, a mother with her daughter, a couple with a dog.

He played with his pistol almost unconsciously, turning it over in his hand, spinning it around his finger, catching it in his palm. Sometimes he held it at arm's length, sometimes he held it on his lap. But he always held it well.

The stream of light through the front window climbed his body slowly as the sun rose. Just before it reached his eyes, he got up and walked back into the study, pulling a maple gun case from the drawer. He slid the pistol back into the velvet lining. It fit snugly. His fingers perched lightly on the case's lid as his gaze lingered on the gun. He slammed the case shut.

There was a name emblazoned on its brass plate: JADE MARLOW.

Copyright © 1999 by Greg Andrew Hurwitz

Chapter 17

Allander laughed softly as he wiped the noses of the two children. Their arms and legs were bound with gray duct tape and they lay struggling on the couch. The tape was also wound around their heads several times, covering their eyes but leaving the rest of their faces exposed.

The bodies of their parents lay on the carpet next to the couch. The woman's body was sprawled over her dead husband, her limbs interlocked with his. Their heads, arms, and legs were positioned at unnatural angles. Although Allander had intended them to look like two people holding each other intimately, they looked more like broken action figures.

Before arranging this deadly embrace, Allander had carefully gouged out their eyes with a knife he had found in the kitchen. It had taken him some time to get up the courage to approach the woman. The first thing he had done was to wet a towel and smear the white beauty mask off her face.

Now, he sat on a love seat with his knees pulled up to his chest. He hugged himself and grinned as he addressed the children.

"I'm certain that your estimation of your mother and father was rather hyperbolic anyway. Parents are deified by their children, but as you can see, the idols in the temple have come tumbling down." He extended a foot and touched the woman's corpse.

The little girl choked on a sob. "What did you do to my mommy?"

Allander chewed his cheek and squinted. "Let's just say I did nothing you didn't want to do yourself. I only put your desires into action. You see, that's the worst part about being a child -- you're too small to have an impact on anything. Just a confused mind and a weak body with tiny little fingers insufficient to grasp and swing a blunt object."

He took the girl's hand and caressed her trembling fingers tenderly until she jerked them away. They brushed the ragged tape that covered his ring finger and a jolt of pain shot through his hand.

The boy was clearly too petrified to speak. His legs poked out of the large leg holes in his shorts, looking foolishly small and unimportant.

"I'm afraid I'm going to have to dispose of you both for the time being," Allander said.

The girl's chest began to shake uncontrollably and she jerked around on the sofa and pulled at the tape on her wrists.

"Oh no. Oh no no no." Allander threw his head back and laughed a deep, rolling laugh. "I'm not going to kill you. Just move you to the bedroom, away from the watchful eyes of your parents." Standing up, he faced the children and his voice dropped. "They see not what they do."

The girl's bedroom was pink and yellow and splendid. The wallpaper had grand stripes of dancing color, and the bed was adorned with a flowing canopy. Above the girl's desk were several cut-out letters that had been colored with crayons.

The letters were aligned with an ordered sloppiness that only a child's hand could have accomplished. "L-E-A-H." They were proud, bright and confident. Allander stared in fascination at the girl's name, standing with one child tucked under each arm. "Astounding." He shook the girl gently. "Such self-affirmation. To be admired in a budding woman."

He laid the children side by side on the mattress underneath the canopy and unwrapped their wrists, allowing their groping hands to meet and clasp together. Then, he secured their fearful handhold and taped their other arms down to their sides.

After kissing both children on their foreheads, he stood back and admired his work. His fingertips moved lovingly over the boy's face, lingering for a moment on his lips. Running his other hand smoothly down his own stomach, Allander fondled himself. He moved his hand from the boy's lips, across his rosy cheeks to the back of his head and held it there for a moment before turning away.

It would be easy, but not quite what he wanted. The woman in the mask had scared him, but he had dominated her. The boy was nothing next to that.

He cleared his throat and found his voice again. "Brother King, Sister Queen. So much contradiction harmonized in a single pair. Play, children, and see each other not."

Allander stood naked in front of the full-length bathroom mirror and stared at his pale, bruised body. His dirt-covered feet had left marks on the white carpet. Gazing at the mirror through his tangled locks, he looked at the crusted blood on his bottom lip, the swirls of dried salt that clung to his chest, the small leaf of seaweed pasted by his left nipple, and the thin, wiry stubble that sprouted unevenly around his jaw and throat.

Peeling off the tape, he looked at the red slit in his finger. It was a brand, he decided. They had marked him like an animal, right across his own fingerprint.

He reached out his hand and touched the mirror. "What have they done to you?" he said aloud, his query bouncing off the white walls of the bathroom.

Allander sat on the love seat in the living room wearing a royal-blue silk shirt and a loose pair of pants with a drawstring. He had showered, shaved carefully, and re-dressed his finger. He had decided on the exotic outfit after trying on several; he felt it looked somehow princely on him.

He swirled some milk around in his highball glass and leaned back against the sofa, closing his eyes. After a few minutes, his head lolled back, and in his mind he caught a glimpse of an overweight man pulling a clown mask over his unruly hair. Images of heads with the eyes gouged out and a hand wiping a white mask from a woman's face flashed rapidly through his mind. He awoke with a start, the glass of milk sliding from his grasp. He watched the milk spread across the carpet, sinking into the soft fibers. It reminded him of semen.

He was instantly alert, his eyes darting around until he realized where he was. "Ah, there's the rub," he said, and walked to the kitchen to make himself a cup of coffee.

The boy and girl lay next to each other, the sound of their breathing all that interrupted the perfect silence of the room.

"Leah?" the boy said.

"Ssssshhhh, Robbie. Don't talk. We don't know what the man will do."

"Is he gonna -- " Robbie's breath caught in his throat and he started gasping, sucking air in and out through his wavering lips. Leah pressed his hand tightly.

Robbie finally regained control of his breathing and continued. "Is the man gonna hurt us?"

Leah didn't respond right away, but squeezed Robbie's hand again. Their palms were both sweating profusely and the moisture mingled to make a slick seal.

"I think he already has," she replied.

Copyright © 1999 by Greg 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!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
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!