Tony Powers’ psychological thriller The Attendant opens by introducing two New York City residents who could not be more different from each other: wealthy, privileged financier Richard Alleroy and damaged Gulf War veteran Emanuel Graves.
The initial set-up of the book was a bit labored for me, with more description than was needed to set the scene and introduce the characters. However, this is a very minor quibble. Once the inciting incident occurred–a mysterious blackmail note received by Alleroy–I was hooked.
Alleroy’s attempts to meet the blackmailer’s demands do not succeed because of a chance encounter in a nearby park with Emanuel. His misdeeds are subsequently revealed to his employer, who promptly fires him. He then hatches a desperate plan to convince Emanuel to kill him, so that his wife and children can collect on a sizable insurance policy.
The story is told in alternating points of view between Alleroy and Emanuel, which serves the plot admirably. Both of the main characters are well-developed, with Emanuel the more sympathetic of the two. At the same time, I was able to see Alleroy’s plight through his eyes, which raises the stakes and contributes to the narrative tension. The stakes are raised for Emanuel with the gradual development of a love interest, Estella. Interspersed throughout are short scenes from the points of view of Estella and Alleroy’s wife, thereby raising the stakes for each man even higher.
As to be expected in a thriller, there are plenty of plot twists to keep the reader guessing. What I particularly appreciated as I was reading was that with each new plot twist, more of each man’s character is revealed.
In the end, I read The Attendant in one sitting with no breaks. I simply could not stop turning the pages!
Tony Powers has acted in major movies (Goodfellas, Cadillac Man, Catch Me If You Can) and TV (NYPD Blue, The King of Queens). A hit songwriter (98.6, Remember Then, Lazy Day), his songs have been recorded by artists ranging from Kiss to Louie Armstrong. His MusicFilm (Don’t Nobody Move (This is a Heist)) won Silver at The International Film and Music Festival of New York, Gold at The International Music Video Festival of Saint Tropez, and was Details Magazine’s Video of the Year. His CD Who Could Imagine was called a ‘masterpiece’ by Joel Selvin, former rock critic of The San Fransisco Chronicle. Powers currently blogs at: https://barkinginthedark.com/.
Well, the germ of this novel began in (gasp) 1967. I wrote it originally as a film short while I was successfully writing “hit” songs, which metier I finally turned my back on because the “commerciality” of the music “business” made me feel less like an artist and more like a tailor.
I was, and still am, a political animal and an observer of the human condition – a condition in which sadly I find great fault. I have seen the consequences of iniquities faced by people without an education or the means to get a decent-paying job. I’ve been witness to the damage inflicted on people with little recourse other than to live a desperate life, join the military, or turn to crime. I have long been a class warrior.
That a nation surfeit with wealth refuses to provide free or inexpensive health insurance and a solid education to every citizen whose taxes should go towards providing these services has always filled me with anger. The theme of class struggle and what I see as the basic unfairness of our system has always run through my original music, my blogging and my novels. I find humanity as a whole to be too filled with ignorant cruelty not to drive itself to extinction in what will be a blink of the eye to the universe.
This novel represents that greedy part of humanity polluting what decency it can in the naked pursuit of power and money.
A Musical Example of Tony’s Social Commentary