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One morning in Los Angeles, Nate Overbay, a divorced former solider suffering from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and slowly dying from ALS (Lou Gehrig disease) steps out onto the ledge from the bathroom window on the eleventh floor of a city bank and gets ready to end it all.
He has chosen his spot carefully in the hope he will land in a dumpster directly below and not land on top of, or harm anyone.
But before he can jump and just as he moves one foot from the ledge, gunshots ring out from within the building. Armed, masked men have stormed the building and a robbery is in progress. And Nate, with nothing to lose but the life he was about to give up, decides to intervene.
Although still determined to go through with his jump and end his life, Nate can see through the window that the gunmen have already killed a couple of people and it appears that they have every intention to kill more, including a little girl who reminds Nate of his own estranged daughter.
After crawling back through the window unseen by the gunmen, Nate puts his soldier training into action and manages to foil the bank robbery, emerging a hero, but the ringleader of the gang manages to escape after warning Nate he will 'make him pay in ways he can't possibly imagine.'
For Nate, this threat holds little weight. He was just about to end his life anyway. And if suicide doesn't get him, then his recently diagnosed Lou Gehrig's disease will, as his body slowly shuts down. It is this diagnosis on top of the PTSD he suffers from, where he relives the moment his serving soldier friend lost his life and whom still appears to him regularly, that Nate can't fight. It also cost him his wife and daughter and both are practically strangers to him now. Therefore Nate feels there is no future for him anymore and he is finding it surprisingly easy not to care about the ringleader's threat.
Even when the ringleader, a Ukrainian mobster named Pavlo, kidnaps Nate and makes clear that very bad things are going to happen, Nate is ready. What he isn't ready for however is Pavlo's threat to Nate's estranged wife and daughter, which changes everything. Determined to protect them at all costs, Nate finds he now has to stay alive and complete a task set for him by Pavlo within a few days. And if he fails it is his family who will pay.
Having read Gregg Hurwitz's previous novels and enjoyed them all, I was looking forward to this latest one 'The Survivor'. Hurwitz usually packs his novels with twists and suspense which move along at a fast pace. Fans of Harlan Coben and Simon Kernick like myself, will enjoy a Gregg Hurwitz novel I am sure.
The Survivor opened up with a typically tense setting as Nate is about to end his life and right away I was plunged into a gripping read as Nate steps back from the ledge and decides he has nothing to lose by intervening in the violent robbery taking place.
The action is non-stop from start to finish, which is something I have came to expect from Hurwitz and once again he does not disappoint. There are certainly no slow or boring parts where your mind wanders. Nor is there any needless information or long-winded descriptions. Indeed I found it very easy to remain engaged in the story and read the book in a couple of sittings.
Although more than a little far-fetched at times, Hurwitz does offer complete escapism with this story and although there were not as many twists in this novel as in his previous ones and nor was there a big twist at the end which is often the case with this type of thriller, I never felt disappointed.
It was interesting the way Nate's PTSD was explained and sensitively handled, as well as the effect it had on his family, whom he becomes reunited with. Because of Nate's condition, you know that if the gangsters don't take his life then his illness surely will, but after becoming reunited with his family through the threats from Pavlo, you know that one way or another, this story isn't going to have a happy ever after ending and it is this which sets it apart from many other novels, as Nate's ultimate fate is sealed from the start.
The characterisation was excellent throughout from Nate himself to the menacing Ukrainians and I thoroughly enjoyed reading The Survivor, but I did feel that for me personally it is not Gregg Hurwitz's best novel. It wasn't that anything was missing and I did enjoy it. I simply felt that that overall I have enjoyed the storylines of some of his other novels more than this one. Having said that, I must say this is still an excellent read for thriller fans and one I am happy to recommend.