A bleak portrait of a group of young Las Vegas natives—the author’s debut.
Growing up the son of a single mother who worked nights in the casino, Chase always thought he would be the one to escape Vegas. For a while, he does, matriculating at NYU, where he meets his go-getter girlfriend, Julia. But something draws him back. After finishing college at UNLV, Chase is now half-heartedly teaching high-school art by day, and by night cavorting with childhood friends Bailey, Hunter and Michele, who have been involved since high school in a high-stakes prostitution ring. After a rumble with a student, Chase loses his teaching gig and plunges further into their world, which is especially dangerous when Julia comes to town for a business-school conference and gets a feel for Chase’s world. Chase feels particularly protective of the beautiful Michele, and acting as her driver seems to have less to do with the money and more with keeping an eye on her. This is understandable, particularly given Chase’s flashbacks to their high-school years, when the foursome had another member—Chase’s troubled sister Carly. Carly’s demise (from a drug overdose) was also Chase’s, and it is guilt that keeps him from the success he might have otherwise had. But this doesn’t account for his acceptance of Michele’s fate, or his inertia when he sees two of his own former students sucked into the same web of trouble. And though Julia has stuck with Chase through countless personal crises, an unexpected pregnancy finally forces the issue and makes Chase see that Las Vegas is his home, and despite all the trouble it brings him, he doesn’t want to leave.
With no likable characters, its difficult to know who to root for, which makes the stream of parties, car rides and hotel rooms seem nearly endless.