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Airtight Paperback – November 20, 2012

3.1 out of 5 stars 39 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

Old pals Nick and Rob are headin' back to college. But not to resume their studies: they're pushing 50 now, with careers and families, and they're both unemployed, laid off from well-paying jobs. Then one of them remembers an episode from their younger, more adventurous days, when they were known, occasionally, to partake of some not-entirely-legal substances. It turns out they know where to find two mason jars of a definitely illegal substance buried on their old college campus. The plan: dig the stuff up, sell it, make a quick profit. The plan’s execution: well, let’s just say it doesn’t go entirely—or even mostly—as they thought it would. Like Donald Westlake’s The Ax (1997), which features and out-of-work family man driven by desperation to find an extreme solution to his problem, Smith’s novel depends on the reader’s willingness to accept that an ordinary person will do some very uncharacteristic things to keep his life from imploding. A solidly constructed and nicely written comic thriller. —David Pitt

About the Author

J.P. Smith was born in New York City, raised five minutes from the Bronx, and educated in Westchester. He began his writing career in London, where his first novel, The Man from Marseille, was published, then optioned for a film. He’s also the author of The Blue Hour, Body and Soul, Breathless, and The Discovery of Light, which was a Barnes and Noble Discover Title. Smith is a regular contributor to The Nervous Breakdown and The Millions. His screenplay, Chasing Daylight, was a quarterfinalist for the Nicholl Fellowship. Airtight is the first novel he’s written that comes directly from his life — or at least the germ of it can be located there.
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 340 pages
  • Publisher: Thomas & Mercer (November 20, 2012)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 1612185665
  • ISBN-13: 978-1612185668
  • Product Dimensions: 1 x 5.5 x 8.3 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 13.6 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 3.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (39 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #3,979,773 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By M. Denis Hill VINE VOICE on November 5, 2012
Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
"Big wake-up call. Someone gets stabbed under Mick Jagger's nose, and before you know it it's the seventies and disco's king. That was our punishment. The Bee Gees."
Please don't punish yourself getting bogged down by reviews that plod through the plot of Airtight point by point. Rather, take a deep breath, relax, and allow J.P. Smith to draw you into a tale built on the foundation of cultural influences that matter as much in the story's present as in its past: when rock went off the rails.
With nods to noir craftsmen such as Hammet and Chandler, the author speaks in a confident voice establishing the bona fides of the protagonist. He sprinkles references-and never gratuitously-to seminal rock and jazz musicians of the '60s, lending cred to the portrait of the turn on, tune in Nick Copeland. But the character does drop out (of that lifestyle) and for 30 years assumes the persona of a latter day Mad Man.
Alas, one day Copeland finds himself out of work, isolated from his children, distrustful of his wife. Career problems rooted in the vagaries of the ad biz send Nick Copeland on an unexpected course to deal with circumstances mirroring the burdens borne by 50-something victims of the Great Recession: if not you, your neighbors.
Desperate to recapture economic and domestic stability, Nick embarks on an adventure that triggers (or is triggered by?) not just unintended consequences, but introspection and self doubt. His acid tripping brush with "the clear white light" returns to illuminate paths that may or may not polarize his future.
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By Tiffin on February 18, 2013
Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
Started really weird and I thought, "not another Junkie epic!!" I persevered and kept reading. It ended alright but more like a bad boys turn good story. Not badly written but if this is his best offering I don't think I will buy anymore of his books.
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Format: Kindle Edition Verified Purchase
I typically like a good character-driven story. For whatever reason, this one just didn't click with me. I couldn't keep the two main characters separated while reading and the - I don't know - nemesis seemed pretty unbelievable. I don't want to spoil anything, but the relationship between the cop and the prisoner...witness protection is one thing. This just seemed like it would never happen.

Maybe you'll feel differently, though.
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By jdh1934 on February 24, 2013
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Gets pretty slow and silly at times and the wrap up is not satisfactory. I would like to have seen a more realistic plot. The premise is terrific and you do get a sense of the hopelessness of the suddenly un-employed.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
After attempting to read this book I can't tell you why now I wanted to read this book other then it must have sounded good at the time. The book started out alright. I was not fully invested in Nick or Rob but there was something sort of charming about them. They are the down and out losers but I always like a underdog. So I stuck with the book for about the first 6 chapters. The book then went into my started but have not completed book. Going through this pile I picked this book up again. I still felt the same way about this book as I had before but I really was wanting to give it the benefit of a doubt. Which I was starting to warm up to this book despite the language and the conversations that read like a twitter post with a limited amount of characters. Yet when I got to the silliness of "Pussy Galore pleasuring herself with a black, rubber penis lathered with Crisco" I was done.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
J.P. Smith's central story idea for Airtight is very strong - let down by the American dream, desperate men attempt a noir-ish scheme fueled by their mid-life crises to recoup what they feel they were promised. But his skill isn't up to the task of executing it. The long stretches meant to convey the pressure and anxiety pushing Nick and Rob to sell their buried treasure drag on and don't resonate. Thrillers of this type have a long history of unlikable leads, but these guys are whiny and boring.

The writing picks up when the focus shifts to the cops & cons on the other side of the caper. These chapters and scenes are more in the vein of George Pelecanos novels such as Right As Rain, but not that good. They also stick out amidst the suburban angst of the larger chunks of the book that focus on Nick and Rob.

I imagine Smith is capable of writing an entertaining, pulpy page-turner. But, with Airtight, his reach exceeds his grasp.
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Format: Paperback Vine Customer Review of Free Product ( What's this? )
ARC/Fiction: I see other reviews that are nixing the book and I guess those reviewers were under 35 and didn't get "it". Maybe they didn't read the ending.
Yes, there are two former college...I wouldn't call them buddies, more like acquaintances...who are reunited at a job fair thirty years later. After reminiscing, they remember they buried two mason jars of heroin back in the day. Not know what to do with it then and not wanting to get caught with it, it sat there for 30 years. Unemployed and desperate for money, they know what to do with it now. While one man, Rob, is a former lawyer; he knows someone, well, maybe, who can buy it. Nick, former burn-out and ad man and current family man, has no idea who to talk to.
MY THOUGHTS ON WHAT THE BOOK IS REALLY ABOUT:
Throughout the book, there are double-crosses on top of double-crosses. That is not the point of the book. The book is about Nick's life now, not his former life. Nick is having a mid-life crisis on top of losing his job and upper middle class lifestyle. He's questioning his career, his wife, his family, his life. The more he looks, the more he wants the carefree life of college. Rediscovering the heroin is just a means to an end.
It's a pretty good story and I recommend it.
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