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by Christopher Verleger
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Wednesday Nov 16, 2016

Author Scott Alexander Hess tackled reckless promiscuity in his superbly salacious "Diary of a Sex Addict" and profiled a man's attempt to rebuild his life after rehab in the raucous romance "Bergdorf Boys." His latest novel, "Skyscraper," is every much the page turner as his previous works, but with more of an everyman protagonist whose drastic changes in behavior and attitude surprise no one more than himself.

Atticus is an independently wealthy albeit lonely Manhattan architect approaching middle age who has been suffering from a severe lack of creative energy yet manages to stay in the game working for a firm run by his college chum, Darrin. When Atticus meets Tad, his personal and professional life take an interesting turn, to say the least.

Tad is a mysterious, sculpted, sexually dominant young man who helps Atticus realize how much he enjoys submissive roleplay. Right around the time he finds himself enslaved by Tad's authority, Darrin presents Atticus with a career-making opportunity to design and build a high rise in Mexico City, known as the Wolfe project, and as luck would have it, Tobias Wolfe is impressed with his unconventional vision.

As part of the undertaking with Wolfe, Atticus becomes caught in a web of intrigue that includes project manager, Aziz, a fashion magazine editor, Eva, and the enigmatic investor, Taylor.

Atticus and Tad's atypical relationship has moments (albeit rare) when they resemble a more traditional couple, in particular, when Atticus invites Tad to join him at social events related to the project. Taylor, however, has an especially odd rapport with Tad, which could ultimately put everything at risk.

On its own, the interplay between Atticus and Tad has the model of an enticing erotic romance novel, complete with heated and occasionally violent exchanges. As narrator, the author gives Atticus an ominous voice and tone that evolves from defeatist to decadent, which makes both his character and his story all the more compelling.

The overarching plot of architecture and the players involved in the Wolfe project arouse plenty of curiosity and provide an even clearer picture of Atticus who is seemingly willing to submit both at home and at work.

For a relatively short novel, "Skyscraper" certainly leaves a lasting impression, and with its unusually perplexing ending, the author trusts the reader to craft his own conclusion -- unless he has a sequel in mind.

By Scott Alexander Hess
Unzipped Books

Chris is a voracious reader and unapologetic theater geek from Narragansett, Rhode Island.

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