From Publishers Weekly
Starred Review. Next time you join the throngs of people hurrying through a major airport like LAX, spare a thought for those who work there. That's what Larson's impressively rich, darkly plotted and seriously frightening debut thriller does. That bartender, Wylie, who just poured you a drink to calm your nerves: what's his story? Why does this twitchy Vietnam vet who can "play slide guitar, frame a house, smoke a salmon to perfection" avoid entanglements and spend his working hours serving Dewar's at $6.50 a pop? Why does Wylie getting his ex-con brother, Logan, a job at the airport cause so much trouble? Why can't Rudy, the head of a plane-cleaning crew, tell his wife, Inez, about his being fired? And how is the lesbian love life of Logan's daughter, Jewell, a hard-working architecture student, affected by what happens to Rudy and by Inez's plan to leave her husband? Larson zooms in on these five deceptively ordinary people, showing how their lives intersect and climax in a hail of bullets. Best of all is the way Larson uses LAX to capture the despair and sadness of a city like Los Angeles. (May)
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A melodramatic ending mars this otherwise deft debut set against the backdrop of Los Angeles and its airport, a soulless expanse where employees quite literally watch the world pass them by. Slipstream's characters are a desperate lot: Thomas Wylie, a beleaguered airport bartender trying to do right by his pregnant girlfriend; Wylie's brother, Logan, a newly paroled, recovering drug addict hoping to reconnect with his college-age daughter, Jewell; and Rudy, an unjustly terminated airport worker whose thirst for revenge will forever change each of their lives. From the opening chapters, Larson conveys a sense of emotional turbulence and impending doom. Bartender Wylie, a Vietnam veteran, warily serves drinks to his shifty-eyed clientele. Rudy's boss cruelly fires him within earshot of his coworkers. In one of the novel's eeriest moments, Rudy sees a parallel between his fate and that of the prehistoric creatures sucked into the oozing asphalt of the La Brea Tar Pits. "Did any of the animals manage to escape the tar once they were stuck? Pull themselves loose to live another day?" Allison Block
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