Ken Bruen, Reed Farrel Coleman
Open Road Integrated Media
From opposite perspectives, two master authors spin a chilling tale
Nick’s father is a stand-up Irishman—once a cop, now a security guard in the World Trade Center’s North Tower—but Nick does not take after his old man. He’s “got the bad drop,” meaning he only cares about booze, violence, and getting into trouble with his best friend, Todd, a low-level hood connected to the Boston mob. Todd inducts Nick into the world of petty crime. What starts as a bit of good fun—robbing apartments, scoring weed—turns serious as Todd gets closer to the inner circle. He may not love violence as much as Nick does, but he’s about to get more than his fair share.
The first collaboration by beloved mystery authors Ken Bruen and Reed Farrel Coleman, Tower is as uncompromisingly brutal as the work that made them famous. They each tell the story once—Bruen from Nick’s perspective, and Coleman from Todd’s. Their narratives hinge
on a single, blistering question: How can friendship survive in an underworld built on pain?
Unapologetically brutal, VIOLENT (and yes I did mean to shout) and yet somehow engaging. After reading the prologue I was ready to put this book down, the violence was so graphic and for me abhorrent. Yes I read a lot of crime but realistic, graphic torture and brutality doesn’t work for me or my vivid imagination. However I had heard so many good things about these writers and this book in particular that I thought I would continue on and see if there was a story buried amongst the violence and profanity that was worthy of a second look – and there was. And I wanted to experience firsthand how two writers co author a book and if that worked. It did.
Co existing with the violence is a story about relationships, family, friendships and love, albeit a brutal story. The narrative is very clearly written from the perspectives of the two protagonists – Todd and Nick – small time thugs celebrating their own personal rage in a destructive, impulsive and brutal manner. First we hear the voice of Todd in the prologue – cleaning up a mess that Nick had left behind, evidence he would have left for all to see, “Griffin coughed blood into my face when I made to slip the chains under his shoulders…” (p5) The writers nearly lost me at this point. But I persevered. Todd is ruthless and appears only concerned with the job at hand. Then we hear Nick’s point of view, his story of the two childhood friends’ grisly and profitable association with the local crime boss/mobster. The definition of the two perspectives is clearly identified at the start of the chapters. The second chapter headed Todd retells the same story and fills in some of the gaps, the switch in authors and style is seamless. The two voices are clear. The whole story is understood. This device works very well in this instance.
The Tower reference is obvious and we are reminded of this reference several times in the book, starting with the obvious, the title, and then the “tower of cards” reference in the Prologue. Following that, the mention of the youths growing up under the influence of the shadow of the Tower, physically and metaphorically; “I look out my window, the grime stained panes and I see the arc of the mill. It’s throwing a shadow, for all the world like the tower, the North Tower, where my old man worked.”(p.9) and so on… Images of The Tower, the physical and the symbolic are planted cleverly in the novel.
Immediately you open this book you are thrust into a world of violence and for me the worst part of witnessing this story is that mostly the violence is natural; a way in which some individuals deal with life, actions given no more thought than you would to looking both ways before you cross the road. It has become natural, a reflex…a response.
This book is grim, it is black. It is brutal. It is not really my cup of tea. It is clever – I like the symbolism in the text, I liked the intriguing quotes/proverbs at the beginning of each chapter. I liked it was only 136 pages of violence. It is written well; it is captivating, engaging and had my heart racing long after I turned the last page.