The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz is a stand-alone thriller and a story of violence and redemption (available August 21, 2012).
Standing on the ledge outside the 11th floor office of First Union Bank, Nate Overbay is looking down at the dumpster he so thoughtfully opened ten minutes earlier so the cleanup from his suicide will be minimal. Nate’s a nice guy that way. Thoughtful, kind, and luckless. In The Survivor by Gregg Hurwitz, Nate has been sucker punched several times in his life starting in the third grade when his mother died of cancer and his father retreated into a bottle of scotch. He does marry the girl of his dreams and has a daughter, but then he is sent to Iraq where he sees his best friend killed and Nate returns with PTSD.
Things go pretty much downhill from there. Nate’s marriage is breaking up; he is diagnosed with amyotrophic lateral sclerosis (A.L.S. or Lou Gehrig’s disease ) and he sees no point in sticking around for the inevitable paralysis and certain death. So there he is on the 11th floor ledge ready to take a dive when he hears gunshots—the bank is being robbed. Nate figures this is a good day to die hard and steps through the window. He picks up a Beretta carelessly placed on a desk and starts to shoot, and “the listlessness of the past several months fell away, and for the first time in a long damn time he sensed himself moving without hesitation. With something like purpose.”
Nate starts to take down the robbers one by one.
A bullet lasered past his face, close enough to trail heat across his cheek. He was, it struck him, utterly unafraid. In his indifference he felt a weight lift from his shoulders, felt a smile curve his lips, felt imaginary manacles release. [He stepped] into the incoming bullets, to his death, his senses alive with the thrill of freedom—no, more than that. The thrill of liberation.
Nate runs out of bullets and leaves one man standing who ominously warns Nate that “He will be greatly angered by you . . . You have no idea what you have done.”
What might have been a maudlin tale of one man’s last stand against his disintegrating life becomes something much more thrilling in the hands of Gregg Hurwitz. Exhilaration and some fear fuel Nate’s choices throughout the novel. His decision not to die that day on the ledge has made him a hero, but it has also put his family in danger.
Nate’s resolution to spit in the eye of fear and death and some very bad men results in his rebirth as imaged by the block of ice he finds himself encased in after being kidnapped and drugged by mobster Pavlo. Nate’s arms in handcuffs tethered to a beam above him complete the Christ imagery. Nate, like Christ, knows that he will die a terrible death, but he is willing to sacrifice himself to save his family.
Nate is given five days to retrieve the MacGuffin from the bank he saved from being robbed. Although he’s scared to death, Nate feels more alive than any time since he returned from Iraq.
Nate says to his wife and daughter, “I’ve made so many mistakes . . . But the ones I regret the most are the things I didn’t do. The things I let fear keep me from doing. But now, with this [and] everything else. There’s none of that. No more not doing . . . I will not go to my grave knowing that these guys are after you and my daughter.”
Nate has a reason to live and a mission, one that will lead to sacrifice but also to redemption.
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