"Layover" by David Bell.

"Layover" by David Bell. (Berkley/Amazon/TNS)

"Layover" by David Bell; Berkley/Penguin (416 pages, $26)


Joshua Fields is in a rut. He works for his father, doing commercial real estate deals all over the country. Airports have become a second home, with every gift shop, every bar representing exactly what he's doing in his life right now: waiting.

But this trip is different. Joshua bumps into a mysterious woman while buying a book for the flight. Cloaked in a hat and sunglasses, she glances around nervously as if she were being followed. She and Joshua share a moment when she drops her cellphone and he retrieves it for her.

And it begins. Yep, it was that simple. Joshua proceeds to write the book on What Not to Do When You Meet a Gorgeous Stranger at the Airport. They share a drink and a few minutes of private conversation and, surprisingly, she kisses him goodbye.

Not so fast, missy. An airport TV broadcasts the woman's photo: missing.

Filled with concern and curiosity, the smitten Joshua abandons his work flight, with clients and his father waiting on the other end to seal a deal, lies to his girlfriend back home, and rebooks on the same flight the woman is on.

He ends up in Nashville, far from where he needs to be, and proceeds to follow her into a twisty plot that takes a little too long to unravel. He's beaten up and hit on the head repeatedly (evidently not enough), lied to by everyone, and eventually nabs his prize. That's as much of a spoiler alert as you'll get.

"Layover" takes some patience in the middle, but it's a classic testament to premature midlife crisis and, well, testosterone that leads men into the darndest of situations.

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