As a former New Yorker who watched the attack on the city of my birth I am frequently drawn to books that deal with the horrible events of September 11th. Sometimes it is difficult for me to get through the stories as they touch a nerve that was exposed that day and still lies just beneath the surface of my heart. I had “The Architect of Revenge” by T.W. Ainsworth on my Kindle for almost a year before I finally decided to give it a read. I began the book at the beginning of a twelve day vacation cruising through Europe. I finished it well before I boarded the plane for home.
From the first intense page this book grabbed my attention. As Dr. Wesley Morgan heads toward Manhattan on the fateful morning of September 11th, 2001 he has no idea his world is about to collapse. In his jacket pocket he carries an engagement ring he intends to present to the woman he loves, Caroline (Cay) Pruitt. She is attending an awards breakfast at Windows on the World high above the city in The World Trade Center. After frantic attempts to reach Cay by phone she finally calls him. It is evident she is trapped in the smoke filled restaurant atop the north tower. Within moments he watches helplessly as people begin to leap from broken windows knowing they are plunging to their deaths, desperate to escape the rapidly spreading fires that are consuming the buildings. Among those who take the final leap is Caroline.
This begins a story that exposes the pain the human heart can experience following such a dreadful event. Unable to cope with his loss the once professional child heart surgeon begins to deteriorate. Little by little he is overtaken by his grief until his behavior results in his suspension from the hospital where he has acquired a stellar reputation in his field. What follows is a story that explores the emotions of those affected by the disaster of that day. As Wes falls deeper into depression he decides he has one role; he must get revenge for the loss of his soul mate.
The death of Caroline also affects her parents who mourn her loss in their own way. Having grown close to Wes they share their grief with him. But he soon draws away from them as well as everyone else in his life. While his isolation is viewed as depression it is actually much more. As the plot is revealed piece by piece the tension increases.
Ainsworth has obviously done his research and he has done it well. Capturing the heart rending emotions experienced by survivors of the attacks he paints a picture of a society torn apart and struggling to recover. But he also manages to expose the twisted beliefs of the attackers and tears away the curtain that hides how deeply their hatred runs. Brilliant descriptions of military maneuvers, political machinations, and the inner conflicts of government actions add to the intense pace of this book.
The characters are well developed, the plot tight and compelling, and the conclusion rewarding. I highly recommend this book to anyone whether the September 11th events touched them personally or not. It is so well crafted it’s difficult to believe it is a work of fiction.