Suzy is a stewardess, a skateboarder, a race car driver, a Vassar graduate…and now a drug mule.
It’s 1972 in the California beach town of Sela del Mar, where the favorite bumper sticker is “Sela vie” and most roads end at the beach. Close enough to LAX to see the lights of the planes, the village is home to many a houseful of “stews,” as they were called back then. Among them are Grace and Suzy Whitman, good-looking sisters from upstate New York who now work for Grand Pacific airlines, and aspiring magazine journalist Mike Singer, Grace’s secret husband (among many draconian regulations, stews were not allowed to marry). The first friend Suzy makes in her new town is a blond local named Billy Zar. “What do you do?” she asks. “I’m a pawn in a multinational outfit that specializes in drug running,” he replies. He’s not kidding, Suzy learns, when she finds a flour sack filled with contraband in her carry-on on her next flight to New York, along with instructions for its delivery. Suzy is no weenie—she drove race cars in high school and is about to start taking flying lessons. She also has a family crisis that could benefit from an infusion of cash. So one bad choice leads to another and finally to a wildly unforeseen resolution in which debut novelist Riley drives his fuel-injected plot right into the bleachers.
Riley has conjured up impeccable West Coast period atmosphere—salt air, cocaine, Vuarnets—but despite his relentless commitment to depicting his stewardess's inner life, she's more a fantasy than a real character.