Something for Nothing

David Anthony, Algonquin, $13.95 trade paper (352p) ISBN 978-1-61620-022-0
It's 1974, gas is scarce, and Martin Anderson's cushy life is taking a serious nosedive in Anthony's clever and surprisingly heartfelt debut. Living in the wealthy Oakland, Calif., suburb of Walnut Station with his family, Martin owns a small airplane dealership that, before the economic slump, was booming, and Martin spent accordingly: cabin in Tahoe, nice cars, swimming pool, and, most importantly, his racehorses. But now he's in serious debt—until Val Desmond, Martin's horse trainer, comes to him with a proposition. Val knows men who are eager to transport large quantities of heroin into the U.S. from Mexico. Enter Martin and his piloting expertise. Soon he's flying to Ensenada whenever Val gives him the signal. Of course, nothing goes smoothly and soon there's a narcotics detective sniffing around—supposedly about an unrelated case—not to mention a gruesome double murder and Martin's deteriorating relationship with his wife, Linda. The parallels Anthony draws between the 1974 economic crisis and our own are successful precisely because they're not overt, just like his depiction of Martin as an antihero succeeds because his ridiculous antics are laced with a yearning to belong that's so intense it borders on deranged innocence, rendering him the most lovable drug smuggler in ages. (June)
Reviewed on: 02/07/2011
Release date: 06/01/2011
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