The Big Both Ways

John Straley, Author . Alaska Northwest $25.95 (350p) ISBN 978-0-88240-739-5 ISBN 978-0-88240-732-6

In this gripping tale of survival, betrayal and murder set in the Pacific Northwest in 1935 from Straley (Cold Water Burning ), Slip Wilson is just trying to find work, food and a little justice when he hooks up with a bottle-blonde, Ellie Hobbes, who drags him into her edgy, ragtag life. At the last minute, Ellie, a notorious “red” union organizer who faces mounting problems with antiunion forces, and her young niece hop aboard the same rickety boat Slip is escaping on that's traveling from Seattle to Juneau. The odd trio barely catches a breath as weather, hunger, a Seattle homicide detective and a revenge-seeking gang of thugs hound them all the way up the Inside Passage. Ellie isn't big on explanations, so Slip isn't sure until nearly the end of their journey if she's a heroine or a scoundrel. Straley's beautifully understated narrative, vivid sense of place and unapologetic, unadorned characters make this a riveting, unpredictable ride. (May)

Reviewed on: 03/31/2008
Release date: 05/01/2008
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