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Tower: A Novel Paperback – September 7, 2009
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From Publishers Weekly
Divided into two halves, this short, brutally poetic tour of the underside of Brooklyn, Boston and Philadelphia marks the first collaboration between noir masters Bruen (The Guards) and Coleman (The James Deans). Drawing on the classic theme of childhood friends pulled toward different sides of the law, the coauthors tell the story of Nick and Todd in quick concise scenes, sketching backstories and love lives, flipping time and incidents like Tarantino's Pulp Fiction. Running errands under the cold eyes of an enforcer, Griffin, for the Bible-quoting gangster Boyle, the heroes learn fast enough that you live in the rain forest, you get wet. And looming symbolically over their narrow, violent world is the north tower of the World Trade Center. Bruen and Coleman shine, dropping in-jokes, experimenting and displaying all the literary chops that have made their novels such cult favorites among mystery fans. (Sept.)
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"Taking up the storied themes of crime fiction -- loyalty and betrayal, temptation and treachery -- Tower lifts and elevates them, forging a tale both barbaric and baleful, swaggering and broken-hearted. Brutal, soaring street poetry to take your breath away." --Megan Abbott, Edgar Award-winning author of Queenpin
"Tower goes off like a slo-mo explosion, a raging blast of white-heat light. It's a compelling study of pathologies, and style, and friendship and fate. Fuelled by tenderness and murderous hate, it's as tender as it is brutal, tender as a savage wound, ragged and raw. Here be monsters, crippled monsters: Nicky and Todd are the truest angels and demons of our mean streets I've read for some time. Be afraid." --Declan Burke, author of The Big O
"Tower is spare, powerful, surprisingly tender. And as seamless a piece of two-author writing as you'll ever find." --S. J. Rozan, Edgar Award-winning author of The Shanghai Moon
Top customer reviews
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Without ruining the story, per a short summary of a relatively short book, it covers a brief period in the early adult life of two guys raised in Brooklyn when they both were getting into some illegal activities. To even discuss the approach the authors took in writing the book could spoil some of the subtle twists in it.
I've had difficulty getting into almost every book I've read written by Ken Bruen. This was no exception; however, as with the others, that changes quickly. Once I got into it, the story moved very quickly and I had difficulty putting it down. My reading enjoyment had one major exception which was the graphic detail about a murder (something I try to avoid in selecting novels). That was a very minor part of the book and it may well have added to the importance of the events that followed . My tendency also is to avoid prologues, but for some reason I read this one and it did add to the intrigue.
If you enjoy books by either of these authors and/or if you enjoy "crime novels" in general, I'd recommend this one. I must conclude here by saying that every time I read a book by one of these two guys, I am left with the thought: " there are those with true talent; then, there's the rest of us"...
I don't read many noir novels, but I have learned that Ken Bruen, that mad Celt, uses language like no other. He was the one that drew me to this book. In reading Tower I learned that Reed Farrel Coleman can match Bruen stride for stride. There's something quite visceral about their writing; it's like being stabbed with a knife, and as such, you never quite forget it. There's not much that can be said about this collaboration. It's powerful. It's memorable. And it certainly makes me want these two to join forces again.
Nick is a quintessentially Bruen creation, invested with a sharp intelligence, ready wit and propensity for violence. Named after his ex-cop father's favourite Hemingway character, he is an archetypal bad boy, running wild from an early age with a stint in juvie hall leading him into a life of crime- as his father says `You're nothing but a punk'. Nick is a wondefully smart-mouthed character, always walking the tightrope between knowing when to keep his mouth shut and when to suck it up. He also has a healthy disregard for his employer Boyle, mocking his exaggerated Irish brogue and quickly realising that Boyle's right-hand man Griffin poses a far greater danger to his physical well being. Bruen's pitch perfect characterisation of Nick, fair carries the reader along, with his narrative coming at you like a hail of bullets from a machine gun- sharp, punchy and unrelenting. As Nick experiences a kind of epiphany and seeks to assuage his conflicting loyalties, so Bruen unfolds his character a little more, and a little more, revealing a different side to him but never losing the intensity of the rapid fire prose.
Nick's cohort, Todd strikes me as a more circumspect character, although imbued with the same sense of self-preservation as , and an equal propensity for violence. Coleman depicts Todd in a steady and measured way, reflecting Todd's even handed and less volatile character but still with the trademark spare prose Coleman is known for. Initially, he like Nick just appears to be a bit of a bad boy happy to be at the beck and call of Boyle, but Todd's on the cusp of a change that will threaten both himself and Nick. The relating of the same narrative from the two viewpoints works brilliantly with the reader feeling the strength of Nick and Todd's relationship, as the story steams it's way to a heart-rending conclusion. The other players in the story are equally well drawn with the bad and the good among them manipulating the lives and emotions of Nick and Todd, for better or worse, and there is even time within the plot for the boys to fall for some feminine charms, again revealing another side to the two bad boys, and adding another facet to what could simply be a tale of wiseguys and shoot-ups.
I loved this short and sharp rat-a-tat tale reflecting the sheer talent of both Bruen and Coleman in terms of character, dialogue and plot but there's even more to it- oh yes-`Tower' is also a great vehicle for discovering other writers, with each chapter beginning with a well chosen quote that perfectly reflect the content of the upcoming chapter. I have discovered some hitherto unknown to me authors, so on top of this being a noir read par-excellence you too can add to your burgeoning bookshelves with some new names. Cracking.